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Talented youth
Heritage's Bailey, Buddenbaum earn top honors

The future of local volleyball is in good hands.

In fact, the Citizen's 2008 All-Area Volleyball team illustrates that point, as 13 of the 16 players on the first team are juniors or younger.

What's more, the squad is dominated by 11 juniors.

That should come as no surprise since Heritage's junior-laden squad had the best season of the six local schools.

Heritage also swept the top honors on this year's team.

Junior middle hitter Taylor Bailey is the Player of the Year. Her outstanding play and leadership sparked the Lady Patriots to the Area 8-AAAA championship and a Class AAAA state playoff appearance.

Heritage's David Buddenbaum is the Coach of the Year after guiding the Lady Patriots to the 8-AAAA South subregion crown, the 8-AAAA championship, a state playoff berth and a 31-20 record.

At one point in the season, the Lady Patriots were 10-15 after playing a grueling schedule. In their final 26 matches, the Lady Patriots posted a 21-5 mark.

Mikayla Charles (Junior, Heritage): Charles was the Lady Patriots' main threat on the outside, finishing second on the team in kills with 290.

Olivia Wasdin (Junior, Heritage): Wasdin did a little bit of everything for the Lady Patriots. The junior led the team in service reception (618), digs (115), service percentage (93.2) and points (278). She also had 115 kills and 61 aces.

Gabrielle Parker (Senior, Eastside): Parker provided the senior leadership during the Lady Eagles' run to the Class AAA state playoffs. She led the team in digs (132), was third in blocks (23) and kills (54) and was fourth in aces (54).

Jenny Chapman (Junior, Heritage): Chapman was a defensive stalwart for the Lady Patriots, finishing second on the team in digs (103) and third in service reception (290). She also had a team-high 76 aces and recorded an ace 21.8 percent of the time.

Taylor Bailey (Junior, Heritage): Bailey set new single-season records for the Lady Patriots in kills (337) and blocks (92). The junior is now the Heritage all-time leader in blocks with 180. She also had 70 aces and 211 points.

Tayla Mitchell (Senior, Rockdale): Mitchell paced the Lady Bulldogs in kills (224) and blocks (39). The senior tallied 30 aces and had a service percentage of 87 percent.

Arabia Umrani (Junior, Heritage): Umrani moved to middle hitter this season and turned in a strong season for the Lady Patriots, notching 143 kills and 33 blocks.

Antonia Mullins (Junior, Eastside): Mullins was the team leader for the Lady Eagles in blocks (59) and tips (38). She was second on the squad in kills (72) and third in aces (60).

Katie Johnston (Freshman, Eastside): Johnston made a huge impact for the Lady Eagles as a freshman, leading the team in kills (105) and aces (85). She also had 26 blocks.

Brianna Dennis (Junior, Rockdale): Dennis recorded 194 kills for the Lady Bulldogs and had a service percentage of 88 percent.

Kelsey Girardot (Junior, Rockdale): Girardot's season for the Lady Bulldogs was cut short by an injury, but the junior was the local area's dominant player at right-side hitter. She finished the season with 153 kills, a team-high 71 aces and 11 blocks.

Chelsea Nunn (Junior, Rockdale): Nunn set a new single-season school record for the Lady Bulldogs, recording 536 assists. She also contributed 53 aces and 31 kills and finished with a sparkling service percentage of 96 percent.

Rachel Jubran (Junior, Heritage): Jubran paced the Lady Patriots in assists with 537. She also contributed 66 aces and 231 points while finishing with a service percentage of 91.7 percent.

Mikala Flonnoy (Junior, Heritage): Flonnoy provided the Lady Patriots with great versatility, finishing second on the team in assists with 523 and fifth in aces with 56.

Mary Sheets (Senior, Eastside): Sheets' setting ability was a major component in the Lady Eagles' state playoff run, leading the team with 374 assists.

Taylor Burdette (Sophomore, Rockdale): Burdette showed steady improvement all season for the Lady Bulldogs, finishing with 150 digs and 68 aces.

Jeff Gillespie can be reached at jeff.gillespie@rockdalecitizen.com.

SideBar: All-Area Volleyball

· Player of the Year: Taylor Bailey, Heritage

· Coach of the Year: David Buddenbaum, Heritage

First Team

· Outside Hitter: Mikayla Charles (Junior, Heritage)

· Outside Hitter: Olivia Wasdin (Junior, Heritage)

· Outside Hitter: Gabrielle Parker (Senior, Eastside)

· Outside Hitter: Jenny Chapman (Junior, Heritage)

· Middle Hitter: Taylor Bailey (Junior, Heritage)

· Middle Hitter: Tayla Mitchell (Senior, Rockdale)

· Middle Hitter: Arabia Umrani (Junior, Heritage)

· Middle Hitter: Antonia Mullins (Junior, Eastside)

· Middle Hitter: Katie Johnston (Freshman, Eastside)

· Middle Hitter: Brianna Dennis (Junior, Rockdale)

· Right-Side Hitter: Kelsey Girardot (Junior, Rockdale)

· Setter: Chelsea Nunn (Junior, Rockdale)

· Setter: Rachel Jubran (Junior, Heritage)

· Setter: Mikala Flonnoy (Junior, Heritage)

· Setter: Mary Sheets (Senior, Eastside)

· Libero: Taylor Burdette (Sophomore, Rockdale)

Honorable Mention

· Alcovy: Leah Anderson, Ashley Grant, Malaceo Ivey, Ashley Jacobson

· Eastside: Ashley Aycox, Tiffani Hodges, Naomi Willis

· Heritage: Kacie Bradley, Hillary Norman, Erica Perry

· Newton: Kayla Buch, Alia Griffith, April Lo, Joy Pollock

· Rockdale: Lauren Aikens, Jasmin Miller

· Salem: Spencer Papallo