Titans volleyball aims for new heights

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 17, 2023

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By Dan Kibler
For the Clemmons Courier
Lauren Gillon admits that at first look, this should be a tough volleyball season for her West Forsyth Titans.
That’s just looking at the team’s roster, though, which is missing almost all of last year’s top players from a team that finished 18-10 overall, 10-5 in conference play and lost in the Central Piedmont 4A championship match and then the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
“Usually, when you graduate a bunch of players, people say, ‘It’s a rebuilding year,’ but I’m excited,” said Gillon, who is in her 12th year as the Titans’ head coach. “We’re going to be real competitive. We’re young — we lost our whole starting lineup from last year — but we’re younger, taller, very talented, athletic, strong — we just need experience.
“This is a really good group. These kids are good people; they get along; they’re competitive, and they’re obviously very skilled volleyball players — especially the ones who are so young. But the next couple of years, we should be pretty good.”
Oh, and by the way, there’s something noticeably different about the Titans — even at first glance.
“Everybody who has seen us has said, ‘Your girls must have gone through a growth spurt,’” Gillon said. “We’re bigger and taller, which should make us better offensively … We have the ability to be strong offensively.”
Gillon hopes to pair some senior experience with one of the best first-year classes she’s ever had. Outside hitters, Caroline Hogan and Emma Hayes, plus defensive specialist Veronica Ballas, have three years in the program under their belts.
“Veronica got a little bit of playing time last year, but she’s really developed over the summer. She put in some time and grew over the summer, and everybody looks to her,” Gillon said.
“(The seniors) bought into the culture and what we’re trying to do the past couple of years,” Gillon said. “Last year, we ended up moving freshmen up to the varsity, and we have three really fantastic freshmen.”
Sophomore Taylor Alderman is a 6-foot-1 middle blocker — “a great all-around athlete” in Gillon’s view — who caught for the Titans’ softball team last spring. Victoria Guthrie, a 5-foot-11 sophomore, transferred in from Winston-Salem Christian.
And then there are the first-year students.
Hadley Lichty is a 5-foot-9 setter and the youngest of three volleyball-playing sisters. Gillon said she “has got a really high volleyball IQ.”
Aurora Rosa, a 5-foot-8 freshman, has two older sisters who played for Gillon. “She’s strong, competitive and has experience from watching her older sisters play for us,” Gillon said.
Last but not least is 6-foot Ella Lamoureux, whose athletic skills are just now catching up with her physical presence.
“I think the cool thing is that it’s a whole new group,” Gillon said. “They’re so talented, and they’re only going to get better. We have a good chance to be very good by the end of the season. We just need some experience.”
8/18 – Western Guilford (Neutral site)*; 7 p.m.
8/19 – Southern Alamance (Neutral site)*; 11 a.m.
8/19 – Carrboro (Neutral site)*; 1 p.m.
8/24 – Western Guilford*; 6 p.m.
8/29 – Mount Tabor; 6 p.m.
8/30 – West Stokes*; 6 p.m.
8/31 – @ Parkland; 6:15 p.m.
9/5 – Glenn; 6 p.m.
9/7 – Reagan; 6 p.m.
9/12 – @ David; 6:15 p.m.
9/13 – Northwest Guilford*; 6 p.m.
9/14 – @ RJ Reynolds; 6:15 p.m.
9/19 – East Forsyth; 6 p.m.
9/21 – @ Mount Tabor; 6 p.m.
9/26 – Parkland; 6 p.m.
9/28 – @ Glenn; 6 p.m.
10/3 – @ Reagan; 6:15 p.m.
10/5 – Davie; 6 p.m.
10/10 – RJ Reynolds; 6 p.m.
10/12 – @ East Forsyth; 6:30 p.m.
10/16 – Conference tournament begins
*denotes non-conference game