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2022 Volleyball Preview: Team-by-team capsules
Reece Rhoades volleyball
West Forsyth's Reece Rhoads goes up for a kill during a 3-0 win Sept. 14, 2021, at South Forsyth. (FCN file photo)

Denmark 

Co-head coaches: Jamie Corr and Rena Carner, first season for both

Last year’s record: 25-25 (1-6 in Region 6-7A); First Round

Key returners: Emerson Aber (Sr. S), Alyx Danner (Sr. OH/DS), Macy Funk (So. MB), Courtney Graham (Jr. MB/RS), Dominae Jordan (Sr. OH/DS)

Key newcomers: N/A

Season outlook: Denmark broke through for its first-ever state playoff berth last fall. The Danes did it the hard way, too. Despite winning just once during the Region 6-7A regular-season schedule, Denmark posted back-to-back wins over South Forsyth and West Forsyth in the region tournament — the latter an upset of the league’s No. 3 seed — to punch a postseason ticket. As for new objectives, the Danes can aim for their first winning season in program history after finishing exactly .500 the past two years. Junior Courtney Graham and senior Dominae Jordan will help lead that charge. 

East Forsyth

Head coach: Chris James, second season

Last year’s record: 1-30 (0-7 in Region 7-3A)

Key returners: Sarah Black (Jr. L/DS), Macy Meadows (So. S), Emily Miolen (Jr. RS), Cierra Segar (Sr. OH), Haven Swanner (So. L/DS), Gigi Woodland (Sr. DS) 

Key newcomers: Mandy Karate (Fr. OH), Mataya Orth (Fr. L), Kimmi VanNorman (Fr. OH)

Season outlook: There were plenty of athletic programs that enjoyed high levels of success during East Forsyth’s opening year. Unfortunately for the Broncos, the volleyball program wasn’t one of them. Head coach Chris James and his players competed, but only a victory over Commerce late in the season kept East Forsyth from a winless first campaign. “Our goal this season is to build on the growth we experienced last year,” James said. “We were a brand-new program with a lot of players new to the game last season. This season, we have a solid group back that worked hard in the offseason.”

Forsyth Central

Head coach: Brian Welsch, seventh season 

Last year’s record: 31-15 (4-3 in Region 6-7A); Elite Eight

Key returners: Ava Elias (Jr. OH/S), Emma McKinney (Sr. OH), Elyse Oneil (Jr. DS), Lauren Smallwood (Sr. DS), Lauren Smith (Sr. MB)

Key newcomers: Lilly Hamil (Jr. MB)

Season outlook: Forsyth Central has made a habit out of playing its best volleyball down the stretch. Following a 2020 season in which the Bulldogs won six of their last eight matches, including a victory in the first round of the Class 7A state playoffs, Forsyth Central went 10-3 over the final month of the 2021 campaign. That latter run resulted in a thrilling march to the quarterfinals, where the team went toe-to-toe with a strong Alpharetta team before bowing out. Having graduated a talented senior class, the Bulldogs could take their lumps early in the year but will hope for another fantastic finish.

Lambert

Head coach: Missy Hall, 11th season 

Last year’s record: 28-8 (6-0 Region 6-7A); Elite Eight

Key returners: Ella Beyer (Sr. OH), Dani Cortes (Jr. PH), Claire Jenkins (Sr. S), M.K. Patten (Jr. MH), Francesca Popescu (So. L), Jordan White (Sr. MH)

Key newcomer: Alyssa Taggart (Fr. S/OH)

Season outlook: Following an unbeaten run through Region 6-7A play, which included several hard-fought matches, Lambert saw its season end with a loss to the eventual Class 7A state champion for the fourth straight year. The return of a strong group of players, headlined by Virginia Tech commit Ella Beyer, has the Longhorns primed for another strong campaign. “We are excited for the upcoming season, as we have quite a few key players returning,” head coach Missey Hall said. “Building positive team chemistry, being fundamentally strong and improving mental toughness are goals as we go into the season. Our seven seniors have had a very successful run throughout their years at Lambert, and we hope to continue that success this season.”

North Forsyth

Head coach: Kelly Christensen, seventh season

Last year’s record: 34-12 (5-1 Region 6-7A); Final Four

Key returners: Melina Baumann (Jr. M); Brooke Crummel (Jr. M/OH); Hannah Hagen (So. DS/L); Nathalia Quintero (Sr. S/RS); Lily Torrence (Jr. S/RS/OH); Greenlee Welch (Jr. DS/L)

Key newcomer: Natalie McColl (Jr. DS/L)

Season outlook: North Forsyth didn’t graduate a single player from its squad that finished runner-up in Region 6-7A and reached the Class 7A semifinals before dropping a 3-2 heartbreaker to Alpharetta. In theory, the Raiders should have been placed in a better situation after moving down to 6A this season. However, reclassification has turned 6A into the toughest class in the state. North Forsyth, though, should be considered the favorite in Region 8-6A with Brooke Crummel leading the way for a team with plenty of playoff experience. “Our most powerful asset is the chemistry and bond that our girls have with each other,” head coach Kelly Christensen. “It can translate to beautiful play on the court, we just need to make that consistent in times of adversity.”

South Forsyth

Head coach: Steffi Legall-Riddle, fourth season

Last year’s record: 4-30 (0-6 Region 6-7A)

Key returners: Angelica Conde Borres (Sr. L), Ansley Davis (Sr. S), Arielle Estes (Sr. S/RS), Allie Magers (Sr. MB)

Key newcomers: Kendra Leboehi (So. OH/RS); Aria Singh (So. OH)

Season outlook: South Forsyth’s 2021-22 season didn’t go the way anybody within the program would have wanted. It wasn’t that the War Eagles were uncompetitive, losing 3-2 in a couple of their Region 6-7A matches, so there is optimism that South Forsyth can begin to turn things around this year. “We are certainly looking to rebound from last year's season and are excited about the 2022 season,” head coach Steffi Legall-Riddle said. “The team has worked hard this spring and summer to be ready for the 2022 season, and a feeling of excitement and anticipation is in the gym.”

West Forsyth

Head coach: Jake Dickey, 10th season

Last year’s record: 26-14 (4-2 Region 6-7A)

Key returners: Reece Rhoads (Sr. OH), Lymaris Vasquez (Sr. OH), Shea Murray (So. DS/L), Taryn Dickey (So. S/RS), Mckenzie Kappy (So. DS)

Key newcomers: Piper Duckworth (Fr. RH), Adeline Wieler (Fr. DS), Audrey Farbotko (So. MH), Kaylee Cantlin (Jr. RH), Jillian Staiti (Jr. MH), Brooke Stevenson (Jr. MH)

Season outlook: West Forsyth put together the regular-season resume of a state tournament team in 2021. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, a loss to Denmark in the Region 6-7A tournament ended their year. Thus, head coach Jake Dickey said, “Our goals for the [2022] season are to finish strong in the region tournament and to make a deep run in the state tournament.” While West Forsyth graduated some key pieces, the Wolverines return two stellar seniors. Reece Rhoads will soon be the school’s all-time kills leader, while Lymaris Vasquez is primed to break the program record for aces.