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Back in the blue

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Waldron senior Abby Adams prepares to dig a ball in a match last season. Adams is one of four seniors on the Mohawks' roster this season.
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Waldron junior setter Maddi Tyree places a ball for a teammate in a game last season.

By KRIS MILLS - kmills@shelbynews.com

After a long road to recovery, Waldron senior Abby Adams is back. No knee brace. No limitations. The Mohawks’ volleyball veteran can finally focus on her play.

After leading Waldron in digs last season and finishing second in kills, Adams tore an ACL during her junior basketball campaign. Cleared to fully participate at the end of July, Adams will lead a new squad into the 2018 season.

The senior finished with 245 digs and 117 kills one year ago and will be one of four seniors on the Mohawks’ roster. The program will also feature nine freshmen. Adams, however, is the only senior who has played the sport her entire high school career.

“Getting back in shape and getting my muscles back was the hardest part,” Adams said. “We played at the Academy (Volleyball Club) this summer. We struggled a little bit with the new team, but we are a lot better now than we were at the beginning of the summer.

“I feel like I need to be a better leader than I am. I am hard on myself sometimes, but I feel like I have improved on that.”

Waldron head coach Whitney Moore, who enters her third season with the program, said Adams has been used as a “utility player” during her career at Waldron. That will change.

“This year, we won’t have to move her around as much based on the numbers,” Moore said. “We have struggled in the front row in the past. Abby will be my outside (hitter) and play in the back row. That is something I do not plan on changing.”

Other seniors include Hannah Sullivan, a standout in basketball and track and field, as well as Ali Trueblood and Makayla Tillison. Trueblood, a defensive specialist, will soon return from an injury.

“Sullivan will play on the right side (front),” Moore said. “She can jump well and is athletic. Makayla will also be on the right side, but I can move her if I need to.”

One difference Mohawk fans may notice from the start, besides the new faces, is the formation Waldron will run. The team is set to have two setters this season instead of one. Junior Maddi Tyree, who finished with 380 assists as a sophomore, will be joined by sophomore Lauren Fischer. The pair will be tasked with connecting the defense to the offense.

“Right now we are working on quickening up our offense,” Moore said. “Just pressuring the other team to respond to our offense is a big thing and something we weren't able to do last year.”

Fischer, who is also coming off an ACL tear, gained experience on the junior varsity team last season and gives Waldron another athlete on the court.

At the libero position will be sophomore Lauryn Thomas, a player with natural instincts in any sport she plays. After an injury during volleyball as a freshman, Thomas enjoyed a fine rookie season on the basketball court.

Juniors Paige Fewell and Katie Kuhn will see time in the front row alongside Adams. Sophomore Molly Benson and freshman Nichole Garner are also expected to contribute to the varsity team.

“Katie has improved a lot this summer,” Moore said. ”She will also be an outside hitter.”

After finishing with one win a season ago, Moore and the Mohawks, as a program, are looking to take the next step. In her first two seasons with Waldron, underclassmen dominated the varsity.

“That is not always a good thing,” Moore said. “But I am happy with the numbers. We will have a full junior varsity team. For the younger players, getting them on junior varsity and getting them to work together is good. Even looking down at the junior high, each class has people who can contribute. It is only going to continue as we build the program.”

Waldron opens its season on Saturday at the Morristown Classic.

Kris Mills is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Kris on Twitter @KrisMills37.

Waldron Mohawks

2017 Record: 1-30, 0-6 in MHC

Returning Players: Abby Adams, Paige Fewell, Maddi Tyree, Lauryn Thomas, Katie Kuhn, Molly Benson.

Top Newcomers: Hannah Sullivan, Ali Trueblood, Lauren Fischer, Makayla Tillison, Nichole Garner.