Lady Spartans' McGrath digs playing defense
Throughout the season, Centennial senior Jeanette McGrath used her quickness and on-the-court smarts to make play after play while sacrificing her body.
McGrath’s hustle and skill wasn’t lost on the volleyball coaches in District 9-5A as she was honored as the Defensive Player of the Year on the recently released All-District team.
“It’s a well-deserved honor,” Centennial coach Jessica Ransom said. “She’s a great kid with an amazing work ethic. I think that she showed that each time she stepped on the volleyball court.”
McGrath led the Lady Spartans in digs with 599 and aces with 51. She also registered 71 assists.
“What made her such a great libero was her ability to read the game and her quickness,” Ransom said. “She would see what was going and was able to get to a lot of balls thanks to her quick first step. If all else failed she was not afraid to throw her body on the court and sacrifice for the better of the team. That’s what it takes from a libero and she did just that.”
The Lady Spartans qualified for the playoffs again this season after finishing third in 9-5A. Centennial lost to a strong Mansfield Lake Ridge team in the first round of the playoffs.
Ransom said the season, her first as a head coach, was a good one.
“Overall we were able to come together and have some success,” Ransom said. “Making the playoffs was a goal we had and we achieved that. Losing in the first round wasn’t what we wanted to do but we lost to a good team in Mansfield Lake Ridge. The eight seniors stepped up and led the team. Overall I was happy with the season. They left a good foundation to build on moving forward.”
Three of those seniors middle blockers Laken Cash and Marissa Thompson and outside hitter Carissa Pauda were first team selections.
Cash led the team in blocks with 105 and was second kills with 238. She also had 152 digs.
“Laken was a force to be reckoned with at the net,” Ransom said. “She put up a huge block and it wasn’t because of her size. It was because of her jumping ability. She made it hard for other middle’s to hit around her.”
Thompson was the top offensive player for the Lady Spartans with 297 kills and was second with 61 blocks.
“Marissa was able to turn it on in a match and be the offensive threat we needed this year,” Ransom said. “If she decided she was ready to go, she would go and put balls away for us. She left her mark this season. If she decided she was going to take over for that night, that’s what she did and no one was going to stop her.”
Pauda registered 218 kills placing her third on the team and she finished with 33 blocks.
“Carissa just has an athletic ability that outshined a lot of people,” Ransom said. “She was able to fly high, jump out of the gym and put balls away. She was very offensive minded and hit the ball hard.”
Centennial had two second-team players in senior outside hitter Haley Kimberling and senior setter Kara Moretz.
Kimblerling had 109 kills and 36 blocks while Moretz led the team with 672 assists and was second with 220 digs.
The Lady Spartans had three honorable mention players in sophomore outside hitter Ady Mize, junior defensive specialist Carly Worthy and freshman defensive specialist Casey Hendrixson.