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Bulldog volleyball primed for 2023

By Cort Reynolds

The Ada High School varsity volleyball team enters its sixth season under head coach Kyleigh Woodruff looking for continued improvement in 2023.

Last season, the Bulldog squad improved by nine wins to finish with an 11-12 overall record. Ada went 2-6 in Northwest Conference play to end up in a three-way tie for sixth place in the tough nine-team league. Ada then led New Knoxville 2-0 in a tough sectional semifinal bout, but eventually lost 3-2 to conclude their season.

Thus, the 2022 Bulldogs were much more competitive than in 2021 (2-19), and they hope to continue their upward arc this fall. “We had a good season and a big turnaround from 2021,” said Woodruff. “We have a lot of girls back, including four seniors. The girls have played a lot together, so we have a lot of good team chemistry.” Eight letter winners and three full or part-time starters return to the Bulldog fold.  

"We want to keep the ball in play hitting-wise, limit our errors and take care of the ball," noted the coach.

All-time digs leader Courtney Sumner has graduated and her replacement at libero will likely be athletic, scrappy junior Jenna Bassitt.

“We will miss Courtney’s defense, but we have three girls stepping up to take her place,” said Woodruff. “All of them are going after the ball more.”


The Bulldogs will again employ a 5-1 offense with versatile 5-8 senior Autumn Andreasen back as the setter after starting the past two seasons.

"Autumn is a leader and runs our offense," said Woodruff. "She knows our hitters. She is smart, quick defensively and is a good blocker.”

Senior Daicy Robinson is back as one of the top middle hitter/blockers. At 5-10, she is a power hitter.

Two outside hitters expected to contribute heavily are senior southpaw Mariah King and powerful junior Tessa Griffith. 

“Tess is really a strong hitter, and her defense in the back row is solid,” said Woodruff. “She's a great hustler with a ton of power and a consistent serve.”

The long-armed, athletic King can play any front row position. A lanky 5-9, she throws defenses off with her southpaw swing. “She is a good athlete and will get her chance to start,” said the coach.

Sophomore Anna Conley is the team’s tallest player at 6-0. The promising Conley played some right outside hitter last fall, and is a good blocker.

Bassitt will be elevated to start at libero after being a defensive specialist last season. She possesses a good, line-drive serve and is very competitive. “She reads the ball well, is very quick, hits the floor and is good in serve receive,” said Woodruff. “We want her to be consistent.”

Feisty, quick senior Josie Phillips may also play some libero as well as start at defensive specialist.

Talented sophomore Alyssa Madison also returns to the fold as another quality libero/defensive specialist.

Promising freshmen Brooklyn Andreasen and Dailah Preston round out a solid top-nine varsity rotation. 

The 5-9 Andreasen hits well from the right outside spot, but can play anywhere in the front row.

At 5-11, the willowy Preston will be a key blocker and is a potentially strong middle hitter, too.

Freshman setter Jaylin St. Laurent has promise as well. Junior libero Natilyn McClain will also dress JV and varsity.

“We have eight returnees among our top nine,” the coach pointed out.

"We have increased height and it is one of the most athletic teams in my tenure as head coach," Woodruff noted. "We have better team chemistry, the players work well together and have experience playing together.

“Our communication is good. It will come down to how many errors we make,” she predicted.

As far as the Northwest Conference standings go, Woodruff feels there are no bad teams in the league.

"Quite a few teams competed well at the top last year in the NWC," she said. "Whoever makes the least errors will win matches." she offered. 

“As for Ada, it will depend on how we play,” she said. “I think we have a chance to do well if we limit errors. We have a great group of girls.”

Crestview (8-0) unseated arch-rival Lincolnview (5-3) as league champion in 2022, followed by Leipsic (7-1) and Allen East (6-2). 

Bluffton was fifth (4-4), followed by Ada, Columbus Grove and Delphos Jefferson in a three-way tie for sixth (2-6). Spencerville finished last at 0-8.

Kylie Acheson is back as the junior varsity coach. Ashley Sumner joins the staff as freshman/assistant coach. A total of 31 girls are in the program, including quite a few freshmen.

"We want to be above .500 overall and more competitive in the league," said Woodruff of the squad’s 2023 goals. "Losing junior hitter Lily Baumgartner (who is concentrating on swimming) is a big loss, but we have hitting options.”

The season’s first match is Saturday, August 19 at local non-league rival Waynesfield.

The home opener is August 21 vs. Arcadia. The NWC lidlifter is September 12 at home vs. Spencerville.

Ada could be a sleeper for a middle of the pack spot or higher in the NWC if the veterans continue to improve and the newcomers play well.


Photos by Cort Reynolds

The Ada varsity volleyball team, from left, front row: Jaylin St. Laurent,   Josie Phillips, Jenna Bassitt, Alyssa Madison.
Middle row: Tessa Griffith, Mariah King, Autumn Andreasen, Brooklyn Andreasen, Natilyn McClain.
Back: Dailah Preston, Anna Conley, Daicy Robinson, Ashlyn Madison, head
coach Kyleigh Woodruff.

Ada volleyball returning letter winners, left to right, front: Josie
Phillips, Jenna Bassitt, Alyssa Madison.
Middle: Autumn Andreasen, Mariah King.
Back: Tessa Griffith, Anna Conley, Daicy Robinson.

Ada 2023 volleyball at a glance

2022 record: 11-12 NWC (2-6, 6th)

Head coach: Kyleigh Woodruff, 6th year

Offense: 5/1

Letter winners back/lost: 8/3

Starters back/lost: 3/3

Top returnees: Sr. S Autumn Andreasen, Sr. OH Mariah King, Sr. DS/L Josie Phillips, Sr. MH Daicy Robinson, Jr. L Jenna Bassitt, Jr. OH Tessa Griffith, So. DS/L Alyssa Madison, So. MB Anna Conley.

Top varsity newcomers: Fr. MH Dailah Preston, Fr. OH Brooklyn Andreasen, Fr. S Jaylin St. Laurent.