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High school volleyball notepad: Young Cougars grow up quickly

The Courtland volleyball team entered last season with plenty of question marks, as four sophomores took turns in the starting lineup. Still, the Cougars went 16–5 and reached the Region I quarterfinals.

This year, those sophomores are juniors. That experience, combined with a fresh mix of talent from last season’s JV championship team, has coach Bob Hott excited about the future.

“We’re still fairly young,” Hott said. “But I’d say we’re an athletic team.”

The Cougars should be most dangerous in the middle, where Emily Jordan and Anna Gallup were a force last season.

If this team has a question mark, it is on the outside.

“That was our big hit from graduation,” Hott said. “We lost a lot of experience there.”

Hott has been encouraged by the progress of several newcomers. Amanda DePalma, a standout from the JV championship team, is on the outside along with MaryBeth McBroom, a soccer star who is playing volleyball for the first time.

“She went from totally inexperienced and having no clue, to having her athleticism close the gap,” Hott said of McBroom.

The Cougars also return starters Bianca Rumbaugh (setter) and McKay Richardson (libero).

“Those two form the nucleus of pass and set,” Hott said.

Hott was impressed by his team’s play at a preseason tournament at Massaponax, where it split a match against defending Commonwealth District champion North Stafford. Courtland will play its first matches this weekend, when it travels to the Virginia Volleyball Showcase.

—Adam Himmelsbach