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Season win streak alive: Ellis volleyball beats South

The Ellis varsity volleyball team was in jeopardy of making the wrong kind of history – the first losing season in the program’s 11-year existence.

Even without Carly Crouch, the Jaguars made sure they sustained a long streak. They beat South Davie twice in two days to finish the season with a 4-3 record – the 11th winning season in a row.

Ellis took both matches in two sets. The first one was held at Ellis on Dec. 15. “We came out with a ton of energy and really kept it going the whole game,” coach Ann Marie Jones said.

One day later, the Jaguars won by scores of 25-19, 26-24. The rebuilding Tigers finished 1-7 after going 6-5 and 10-5 the past two years.

Jones was elated that her girls overcame the absence of Crouch, who missed both matches. Jones needed Makayla VanMeter and Emma Willard to step up and fill the void. Both answered the call.

“I was sincerely proud of them because we have played without Carly the last two matches,” Jones said. “I was really proud of Makayla because she stepped up for me when I needed her. I told her before the game (on Dec. 15) that she would be playing all the way around instead of only as a defensive passer, and she took it and ran with it. She’s very consistent and smart with her plays. She hit up front when she could or she passed it over to good spots on the court.

“Whenever Makayla and Emma were front row, Emma was more comfortable at middle. So Makayla could play outside where she was more comfortable and Emma would play middle until she would rotate to back row. They did a fantastic job talking things out with one another and making changes they saw most beneficial for the team.”

Jones saw remarkable improvement during the season from Erika Arellano. Her playing time went up down the stretch, and she seized the opportunity.

“Erika has grown absolute leaps and bounds for someone who has never played volleyball before,” she said. “She learns very fast. She tries her absolute best all the time and really wants to learn. I have been so proud of her. I put her in against Summit at home (in a 2-1 win on Dec. 8), and she went out there and proved she deserved to be on the court. And since then, she has gone in the last three games.”

Notes: The Ellis varsity has quite a tradition. Their records since the school opened in 2007 through 2019: 12-3, 16-0, 6-6, 10-0, 11-1, 8-4, 13-1, 11-0, 10-1, 9-1, 11-0, 10-0 and 10-2.

Ellis JV

The JV Jaguars entered their final match at 0-3, but they broke through by defeating South Davie in two sets.

One day earlier against the visiting Tigers, Ellis fell short in three sets. “They almost pulled out a win,” Jones said. “I think their nerves and adrenalin were too much in the third game.”

But on the road, Ellis put it all together to end the season on a high note. The team consisted of Jadyn Davis, Angelea Harris, Abigail Lankford, Ava Brown, Quinn Cornatzer, Allie Miller, Kate Nicholson, Morgan Richardson and Andrea Keller.

“They really grew tremendously this year,” Jones said. “Every game they played, they got better. It was really amazing to see the growth they showed with such a short season. I was sincerely so excited for them. The way they played today was the absolute best they’ve played all year. They were talking to one another, keeping each other’s spirits up and hustling for balls. It was just so great to see.”