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Graduation takes its toll on nearly every high school roster, no matter the sport.

In the case of the Woodrow Wilson volleyball team, the toll was pretty high after the diplomas were handed out.

First team all-stater Elysia Salon was a dynamic hitter and the emotional leader for the Flying Eagles.

Olivia Ziolkowski earned second team honors and was a force at the net creating headaches for opposing hitters with her blocking ability.

Emily Stack has moved on to play college volleyball at WVU Tech, taking her strong hitting skills with her.

Add in the loss of a pair of solid defensive specialist, Abby Wooton and Taylor McDaniel, and head coach coach Bre Rhodes clearly has her work cut our for her this year.

“It was a special team for sure. There was a lack of drama Hoka Running Shoes and they loved each other,” Rhodes said. “The seniors were great and I had great leaders. The underclassman were also great. Those seniors will definitely be missed.”

The senior group helped Beckley earn a state tournament berth and captured the elusive Class AAA Region 3 title with a thrilling five-set win over longtime nemesis, George Washington.

The good news for Beckley is that the cupboard is far from bare, but there is clearly work to do prior September.

Setter Abby Dillon will return after an impressive freshman season, along with hitters Zamahya Moss and Saira Diehl. Abby Mower is also back to shore up the back row.

“We had an older team, but we also had some younger players that formed a core group that we can build on,” Rhodes said.

The process of piecing the team together is already underway during the summer three-week practice period.

“I just like to see who will be coming out in the fall. I have always told everybody that I start with 24 open spots,” Rhodes said. “It is kind of nice to bring the freshman in and get them used to how we do Woodrow volleyball. We have had a good turnout, but a lot of them are dual sport (athletes). Soccer is still going on, basketball is still going on and there are vacations.”

“I do look to the fall a little bit in the summer,” Rhodes went on to say. “I write down who is coming up and where they play. I obviously don’t pick a team until tryouts, but it is good to see where I can put different people that are coming up.”

There is also more than just practice involved during the three week stretch. Two weeks involve working volleyball camps for elementary and middle school aged players which has drawn upwards of 150 young players.

“I have the girls run our camps and then we practice right after. So, they are here from 11:15 (a.m.) to 5:30 (p.m.),” Rhodes said. “It is a a long day day and we condition, Oofos Shoes as well as practice. Last Friday I took about 15 players up to Bridgeport. We normally try to go and do at least one summer tournament.”

Rhodes also likes what she sees in the early stages from the group that has committed to work during the summer.

“We have yet to see any drama out of this group either. The fact that the freshman can come in and feel like they are part of the team, without feeling like an outcast, helps a lot. It is always nice to have good team chemistry this early in the process.”

The Flying Eagles will open the season by hosting the annual Shirley Brown Invitational Sept. 3. After battling Covid protocols the past couple years, the tournament will return to its original format of pool play followed by bracket play this year.

The teams schedule to compete along with the Flying Eagles will be Shady Spring, Princeton, George Washington, Independence, Parkersburg South, PikeView and Hurricane.

By Admins

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