By GTNS Sports Staff
The Southeast Conference saw a mix of familiar faces and new stars this season, and the area?s three big schools were all effected.
Three players from last year?s All-GTNS big school volleyball team returned to the court, and all three are back this year. Four new faces round out the team.
Mt. Pleasant had two players selected to the squad this year. Fairfield led the way with four players and one coach, and Washington had one player named.
Coach: Diana Drish, Fairfield: Practice doesn?t always equal perfection, but it usually leads to progress. That is exactly what Diana Drish has done since she took the head coaching reins in 2016 to keep Fairfield volleyball moving forward.
Although Drish was chosen to coach this honorary squad last season after leading her team to a 21-12 record, she continues to improve her team?s win/loss record, which was 24-9 this season. She also helped to raise the level of her players games? as four Trojans were selected to the ?GTNS big school team? for the 2017 season.
With back-to-back runner-up finishes in the SEC in her first two years, Coach Drish and Fairfield volleyball will undoubtedly be working year-round to reach the top of the SEC mountain.
Captain: Kara Jeffrey, Junior, Fairfield: After sharing the final spot on the GTNS all-area volleyball team last year as a sophomore, Kara Jeffrey stepped up her off-season training and earned the captain?s ?C? for this years squad.
Jeffrey spent the off-season working on hitting drills and attending clinics in hopes of rounding out her abilities, and her efforts showed in her balanced stat sheet. Jeffrey recorded 186 kills; good for 2.3 per set with a 22.6 percent kill efficiency, had a serve efficiency of 92.9 percent with 32 aces, and passed out 237 assists which was second on the team, and fifth in the conference. She also had 207 digs and 26 blocks.
Jeffrey is not only our captain, but she was voted MVP of the Fairfield team and named first-team SEC and MVP of the entire league for the 2017 season.
Alison Godwin, Junior, Fairfield: A year after sharing her first GTNS honor with her fellow junior Jeffrey, Alison Godwin has her very own, well-earned spot on the 2017 team next to several teammates and her coach.
Godwin was dominate at the net, ranking first in the SEC in kill efficiency at 35 percent, and No. 2 in the conference in kills with 240, and kills per set at 2.96.
Godwin was second in the league with 75 blocks, while also being named ?best offensive player? at the Trojans banquet Sunday. Godwin was named to both the SEC all-conference team as an athlete, and the all-academic team as a student.
Kalynn Batey, Senior, Mt. Pleasant: The Mt. Pleasant volleyball team was in need of a breakout hitter this year, and Kalynn Batey was just what the doctor ordered in 2017.
Batey was third in kills this year in the Southeast Conference, with 207. She also tallied 42 blocks, 28 aces and 127 digs for the third-place Panthers.
Morgan Brinning, Senior, Washington: Brinning was a steady performer for the Demons this season. She stood out defensively leading the team with 222 digs.
On the offensive attack, Brinning recorded 440 attack attempts to lead her Demon squad plus a team leading 94 percent serve efficiency with 8 aces.
Ashtyn Drish, Senior, Fairfield: The top server in the SEC this season was the senior Drish with a 95.9 efficiency rate. That paired with the third most assists in the conference at 329, the sixth most digs with 223 and 31 blocks which cracks the SEC top-10 in yet another category explains why Drish was not only an academic all-conference student once again, but a second-team SEC recognized athlete after an honorable-mention nod in 2016.
Drish recently represented the Trojans in the 24th annual Southeast Iowa Volleyball Classic played in Fairfield and also provided much of the pop in the Trojans? lineup this spring as she drove in 42 runs while batting .442 and being named first-team all-SEC this spring in softball.
Danae Drish, Junior, Fairfield: When your name is Drish and you?re from Fairfield, you?ve probably bumped a volleyball. When you play as well as Drish does, at as high of a level as she plays year-round, it doesn?t matter what your last name is.
The junior Drish was a first-team all-SEC selection this fall after being named second-team in 2016. She also placed second with her doubles partner in the 17U High Performance Division for sand volleyball this July in Florida.
Drish topped the conference with 503 digs, good for sixth in Class 3A. That averaged out to 6.21 per set, which also led the SEC.
Drish is valuable all over the court, making 64 assists for the Trojans and serving with 94.8 percent efficiency, good for third in the league.
This is Drish?s first GTNS all-area selection, although she could very well captain this team in 2018.
Ashlee Menke, Senior, Mt. Pleasant: Over the past three years, nobody has been more consistent for the Mt. Pleasant volleyball team as setter Ashlee Menke.
This season, Menke was second in the SEC with 400 assists, and fourth in the conference with 45 aces. She also added 122 digs, 44 kills and 39 blocks.
The All-GTNS big school volleyball teams were selected by Matt Bryant of the Washington Evening Journal, Justin Webster of the Fairfield Ledger and Andy Krutsinger of the Mt. Pleasant News