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Fuqua Takes Aim At VCC's Top Perch

FARMVILLE – Two big questions for the Fuqua School volleyball team can be rolled into one as the Lady Falcons prepare for the 2010 season.

How do they replace graduated hitters Allison Newman and Elaine Crone? Two standouts who were lost to graduation over the summer.

It's good that Fuqua had several months to ponder the issue. And a summer to work things out.

“We'll miss them,” said FS head coach Lora Smith, who also noted that the team will be without the services of Rives Kuhar, who is an exchange student this year. “It's hard to tell right now. We lost height, scoring and blocking, but we also saw some players emerge over the season last year that will fill out those roles.”

Fuqua also adjusted its primary rotation to include two setters and added a libero.

“I wasn't going to chose to add a libero, but we had a player in Lauren Lowe who has excelled in that position so far,” said Smith, noting the coincidence that her last name fits her position. “This can be a big plus for us. She can receive a serve and dig out balls that may have hit the floor in the past. That position was made for her.”

Allison Ingram, Tatum Davis and Chasidy Bragg will share time in the setter positions, while Caroline Bryant, Caroline Wiles and Tori Jackson will play as middle hitters, with Jordan Bert, Charlotte Cave and Taylor Schmidt playing on the outside.

“Anything that comes near Jordan and Tatum, they're going to get.

Fuqua has just two seniors on the roster (Berg and Ingram), but despite the Lady Falcons' overall youth, Smith feels her team has a chance to compete for a top finish in the Virginia Commonwealth Conference.

Fuqua finished in a tie for second behind Southampton last season, but failed to advance deep in the eight-team VCC Tournament. The team's goal is to move past last year's finish, and possibly sneak back into the eight-team VISVA State Tournament.

“I know that Southampton lost their tall girls, and everyone has to replace a key element on their teams, with the possible exception of Richmond Christian.

“We're aiming to be in the top-four, no doubt, and to compete for the title.”

One off-the-floor addition that should prove positive for the Lady Falcons is the addition of an assistant coach.

Jennifer Marshall, a junior at Longwood has considerable playing experience, and will help give Smith a different perspective.

“I'm thrilled to have a full-time assistant for the first time,” said Smith. “She's been playing since the sixth grade, and she really relates to our players very well. She's brought some new ideas into the program that should improve us that much more. Just having her here could give us enough of a boost to move us from second to first.”

Over the last four years, Fuqua has proven to be a consistent player in the upper-division of the VCC. Consistent play doesn't get a banner.

“We've had our share of successes, but we haven't hung a volleyball banner in here in over ten years. It's always a goal, but to get one would be a testament to what has been accomplished over the last several years.”