The All-Neuse News Volleyball Team
Arendell Parrott’s Alli Grant Avery is the first ever Neuse News Volleyball Player of the Year. Photo by William “Bud” Hardy / Neuse News
For the first time in Neuse News history, we’re honoring a season’s worth of accomplishments.
The inaugural All-Neuse News volleyball team is composed of some amazing players who gave their all into the 2018 campaign. It was extremely tough to figure out the teams and healthy conversation is encouraged after reading this story. Let’s get into it.
Oh yeah, one more caveat: I left the Player of the Year off the first time to get one more name on the list. Again, it was a tough one.
Player of the Year: Alli Grant Avery, Arendell Parrott
Stats: 432 kills, 55 blocks, 53 service aces
Avery played the entire year with an incredible edge, starting with 32 kills in a season-opening win against Caldwell Academy on Aug. 13. There was no dropoff throughout, including 29 kills in the championship game against the Eagles on Oct. 27, helping the Patriots win their first volleyball title in school history. The junior was one of the most feared hitters in the state and a major reason why APA went 21-0 this year and finished No. 9 in the state according to Maxpreps.
There were some great players in the region, including Ayden-Grifton’s Zion Hardy and Emily Dykes, but Avery will take the first POY award in Neuse News history for her video game numbers and team’s success.
Coach of the Year: David Barnes, Arendell Parrott
The Patriots weren’t looked to be a state title contender in 2018 after losing All-State stalwarts Hannah Scott Avery and Scarlet Combs to graduation. Not only did APA make it back to the championship game, the team capped off an undefeated season, which was lost in High Point a year ago to Asheville Christian. Barnes has helped transform the Patriots into an NCISAA powerhouse with not only great talent, but strategic maneuvers. This “prestigious” honor is well-deserved.
Apologies to Ayden-Grifton’s Linda Bryant, who guided the Chargers to a second straight Eastern Carolina Conference championship, 23 consecutive wins and a fourth-round NCHSAA playoff appearance. Special mention has to go to North Lenoir’s Heather Carson, as the Hawks finished the season 16-5 and second in the ECC with a young core.
Alexia Bryant, Ayden-Grifton (216 kills, 36 service aces)
The Chargers had the most explosive team in the Eastern Carolina Conference and Bryant was part of the dangerous repertoire. The junior was third on the team in kills and gave Ayden-Grifton four legitimate threats to steal momentum with a spike.
Jordan Cannon, Ayden-Grifton (715 assists, 60 service aces, 47 kills)
Cannon set hitters up at an incredible rate throughout the course of the season. The senior averaged an absurd 28.6 assists per game, even more amazing when the Chargers only played four of 25 games in 2018 past the third set.
Emily Dykes, Ayden-Grifton (246 kills, 73 service aces, 62 blocks)
Dykes blended offense and defense about as well as anyone in the region, and a strong contributor in the Chargers running roughshod through the ECC. The junior led the team in service aces and blocks, as well as second in kills.
Zion Hardy, Ayden-Grifton (276 kills, 45 service aces)
Arguably the most feared hitter in the ECC, Hardy led the Chargers in kills and made sure they counted. There have been a couple of games where opponents looked to get out of the way when the senior made contact with the ball.
Paytyn Jones, North Lenoir (174 kills, 42 blocks, 19 service aces)
Jones led the Hawks in kills and blocks, helping the team go from an 11-13 record in 2017 to 16-5 and a home playoff game in 2018. The sophomore will continue to be a force as a young North Lenoir team will continue to get better.
Mackenzie Pope, Arendell Parrott (226 kills, 494 assists, 50 service aces)
Pope did a little bit of everything for the NCISAA champs in 2018, leading the Patriots in assists and finishing second in kills. The junior made a smooth transition from last year, being more of an aggressor while still setting up teammates.
Gabby Carriere, Arendell Parrott (89 kills, 60 assists, 28 service aces, 235 digs)
Carriere provided amazing versatility for the Patriots as one of just three seniors on the 2018 roster. It was fitting she had a pair of service aces to close out the undefeated championship-winning campaign.
Virginia Edmondson, Arendell Parrott (76 kills, 148 assists, 31 blocks, 26 service aces)
Edmondson became a vital part to the Patriots’ success in her first year with the team. The sophomore was second in assists and blocks for APA, also providing some timely kills as the season progressed.
Aaleyah Garris, Ayden-Grifton (129 kills, 44 blocks, 34 service aces)
Garris could jump out the gym and had great timing, helping her finish second in blocks for the Chargers.
Gabby Stallings, North Lenoir (116 kills, 36 service aces)
Stallings did more than provide senior leadership for the Hawks, also contributing well on the court. Stallings was second on the team in kills and was a consistent contributor all season.
Sara Beth Stroud, South Lenoir (155 kills, 25 service aces, 148 digs)
The Blue Devils were led by Stroud, who was a strong presence offensively all year. The junior led South Lenoir in kills and also saved numerous points, finishing second in digs.
Kennedy Sullivan, North Lenoir (109 digs, 23 service aces)
The stats don’t tell the entire story when it comes to the sophomore libero. Sullivan played some of the best defense in the region and did plenty of the little things to help the Hawks become successful in 2018.
Arendell Parrott: Gisell Cervantes (29 service aces, 137 digs); Jorja Tuten (33 service aces, 91 percent serving percentage)
Ayden-Grifton: Caroline Congleton (24 service aces, 10 kills)
Bethel Christian: Johanna Banks (62 service aces), Paige Cannon (41 service aces), Jessi Dawson (69 service aces), Shelby Dilda (93 service aces, 13 kills, 22 assists), Laura Lee Fulcher (62 service aces, 22 kills), Gabby Sutton (61 service aces)
Greene Central: Abby Burress (66 service aces, 14 kills, 24 assists), Daly Keel (40 service aces), Katelin Uzzell (48 service aces, 14 kills), Abby Vendemia (19 kills)
Kinston: Lesley Sutton (32 kills, 12 blocks, 64 assists, 80 digs, 16 service aces)
North Lenoir: Amber Davenport (330 assists), Paula Mason (50 kills, 30 blocks)
South Lenoir: Mallory Dawson (110 kills, 27 service aces), Kenly Hardison (180 digs, 26 service aces), Sydney Wallace (21 service aces, 236 assists)
Let the debates begin.