GRAYSON Rowan County has captured three straight 16th Region volleyball championships, and the Valkyries’ plethora of talent is a big reason why.
The Daily Independent’s All-Area Player of the Year, Bailey Brashear, was a major contributor, as were freshman Madison Roar and senior Kylie Breeze.
“Versatile” is the way Brashear describes her game. There might not be a better word.
An elite two-way player for Rowan County this past season, Brashear led the Valkyries with 326 kills and 81 total blocks (42 solo). She was second on the team with 250 digs and third with 60 aces.
“She’s really good at tempo,” Rowan County co-coach Dusty Coyle said. “When you can run good tempo anywhere in volleyball, it’s very hard to get a good block and defend that well.
“The fact that she can be up there so quickly and have a setter who can give that ball to her when she wants it makes them a very dangerous package.”
Her setter, Roar, posted 757 assists on the season. She’s more than just a distributor, however. Roar also accumulated 85 kills and led the team with 64 service aces.
“She has a work ethic that’s second to none, and it shows,” Coyle said of Roar. “She’s constantly in the gym, constantly doing private (lessons), constantly just challenging herself.”
Roar’s play was good enough to earn her honorable mention All-State honors from the Kentucky Volleyball Coaches Association and high praise from her teammates.
“She can get to just about anything and put it somewhere where we’re able to do something with it, and I think that helps a lot,” Brashear said. “She’s young, so she’s not even at her full potential and I think that’s a really good thing for us.”
Rounding out the Rowan County honorees, Breeze offered “stability” to her team as one of seven seniors for the Valkyries.
“In those moments where the moment wants to get bigger than the player, I relied a lot on my seniors and I had several of them to kind of bring everything back down to manageable space,” Coyle said. “We had several of those in that region championship, Kylie being one of those. She finished sets out when we needed her to.”
Breeze was second on the team with 220 kills, and also racked up 66 digs and 32 aces.
Coyle, who was All-Area Co-Coach of the Year last season, was quick to point to other players who made an impact, too.
“Those are some of the girls that are driving a lot of the points, but there’s still a lot of talent that wasn’t in that group of girls that contribute,” Coyle said. “Three players don’t make a team, and one of the reasons we were so successful is we have a balanced attack.”
Rowan County (30-10) had to battle for its three-peat, as it took five sets to top Russell in the region tournament semifinals before the Valkyries edged Boyd County 3-1 in the championship.
Russell’s 31 wins were the most overall in the region, as the Lady Devils went 22-1 against region competition, losing only seven total sets during that span.
The Lady Devils had three all-area honorees: McKenna Barfield, Sadie Hill, and Kate Ruggles.
Barfield, a junior, was an absolute force at the net for opponents throughout the season offensively and defensively. Her 227 kills were second on the team, and she also posted a team high 76 blocks.
Hill consistently showed she could hurt the opposition in a variety of ways, as she registered 583 assists but also totaled 139 service aces — most in the region and sixth most in the state among teams submitting stat reports.
Ruggles was one of two 16th Region players to be honored on the KVCA honorable mention list. She led the team with 264 kills, added 47 blocks, and was second on the team with 215 digs.
Boyd County (29-8) finished with the third-highest win total in the region and made the region championship for the second consecutive season with just two upperclassmen on its roster.
Junior Abby Baker notched her 1,000th career assist on Aug. 20 in a 3-0 win against Ashland. She concluded her season with 757 assists, 220 digs and 34 aces.
Morgan Lewis, one of two sophomores on the team for Boyd County, was also huge. Her 232 kills were one more than teammate Emma Sparks had on the year, and Lewis also led the team with 50 total blocks and 52 aces.
Rounding out the Lady Lions representatives is freshman Lyndsey Ekers. She finished with 502 digs.
West Carter (27-12) also had three all-area players selected. The Lady Comets won a region tournament match for the first time in school history and set a school record for single season wins.
Senior middle hitter Emily Adkins was an intimidating opponent for region teams. Her sister Madison Adkins spent time as setter and right hitter, and Milea Arrowood sparked the defense at libero.
Sophomore Charlee Hobbs led Fairview with 372 kills and was second on the team with 27 total blocks. Hobbs also had 414 digs and 72 aces.
Greenup County (13-22) won more matches this season than all three of the previous seasons combined (11-71-1). Caroline Adkins led the Lady Musketeers with 283 kills and 30 blocks.
Bethany Ledford paced Ashland with 196 kills and 61 aces. Ledford’s 61 aces were 32 more than the next closest Volleycat, and the super sophomore also posted 524 digs.
Raceland senior libero Adriana Flocker was voted to the team as well despite battling injury throughout the season.
2019 THE DAILY INDEPENDENT ALL-AREA VOLLEYBALL TEAM
Caroline Adkins (Greenup County)
Emily Adkins (West Carter)
Madison Adkins (West Carter)
Milea Arrowood (West Carter)
Abby Baker (Boyd County)
McKenna Barfield (Russell)
Bailey Brashear (Rowan County)
Kylie Breeze (Rowan County)
Lyndsey Ekers (Boyd County)
Adriana Flocker (Raceland)
Sadie Hill (Russell)
Charlee Hobbs (Fairview)
Bethany Ledford (Ashland)
Morgan Lewis (Boyd County)
Madison Roar (Rowan County)
Kate Ruggles (Russell)
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Bailey Brashear (Rowan County)
COACH OF THE YEAR
Dusty Coyle (Rowan County)
Honorable mention: Bella Blackburn (Paintsville), Sarah Boyles (Greenup County), Baylee Caines (Raceland), Makayla Clark (Raceland), Merrick Clinger (Ashland), Malinda Cox (Elliott County), Kinsey Duncan (Ashland), Kameron Fry (Fairview), Christina Grimes (Rowan County), Madeline Hill (Russell), Hailey Little (Paintsville), Morgan McCoart (Johnson Central), Graycin Price (Fairview), Emma Sparks (Boyd County), Rebecca Stevens (West Carter), Cam Terry (Boyd County), Kara Ward (Paintsville), Kyleah Ward (Lawrence County).