Hoggard volleyball remains top notch; local programs making progress

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WILMINGTON – Over the past three decades, the Hoggard volleyball team has created a rich tradition each fall and, as a result, programs from across the area have benefited from the growth of the sport thanks to a number of factors.

Entering his 36th season as head coach of the Lady Vikes, Ron Strickland sits at 686 career victories. He has Hoggard poised once again for a Mideastern Conference title and run through the state playoffs. Since realignment in 2013, the Lady Vikes have dominated league play with a 36-0 record.

Locally, the evolution of club volleyball has helped build the surrounding programs. The New Hanover Wildcats have made huge strides over the past few years and bring back a squad heavy in senior leadership, while Topsail remains a competitive force within the 3A portion of the conference. Hill Pearsall is the second longest tenured coach within the three-county area. Now in his 19th season, the Pirates are hoping to build off a second place finish in league play last year and trip to the third round of the state playoffs.

Madie Schider.
Madie Schider.

Larry Salefsky, who coached Ashley to a league title in 2013, is back as head of the Screaming Eagles. While Salefsky has bounced around with stints at West Brunswick and Cape Fear Academy, he’s back to lead the garnet and gold. He also assists Strickland in developing players through Cape Fear Volleyball (CVB).  CVB has been the leader in club throughout the area and the main proponent of the increased skill set seen throughout the high school season.

In the private school circuit, Wilmington Christian Academy has taken a swipe at the Hoggard dominance, defeating the Vikings in four sets during non-conference play last season on the way to a 2A North Carolina Christian School Association Championship (NCCSA). The two programs will square off on Monday, Aug. 29.

Players to keep an eye out for during the year include: Madie Schider (Hoggard), Kirby Smith (Hoggard), Hannah Freas (Laney), Alyssa Gowdy (New Hanover), Dana Craig (Ashley), Courtney Loughran (New Hanover),


Head Coach: Ron Strickland (36th season)

2015 record: 16-3 overall, 12-0 conference

Key players

  • Madie Schider, the senior libero is coming off a big summer competing among some of the top high school players nationally.
  • Kirby Smith, the junior outside returns as the top scorer from last season.
  • Sam Shuffler, setter.
  • Camille Whitlock, setter.


Wilmington Christian

Head Coach: Tonya Upton

2015 record: 28-3 overall

Wilmington Christian returns their entire lineup from last year’s state championship team.

New Hanover seniors, from left-to-right, Alyssa Gowdy, Colleen Martinez, Courtney Loughran, Kenna Casto.
New Hanover seniors, from left-to-right, Alyssa Gowdy, Colleen Martinez, Courtney Loughran, Kenna Casto.

New Hanover

Head Coach: Mark Hafer (fourth season)

2015 record: 14-8 overall, 6-6 conference

Key players

  • Courtney Loughran, setter, four year varsity starter, 311 assists in 2015.
  • Allysa, Gowdy, right side hitter, 135 kills last season, 48 aces in 79 sets played.
  • Kenna Casto, middle hitter.
  • Colleen Martinez, defensive specialist.
  • Liza McLatchy, outside hitter, sophomore. expected to make a big impact for the Wildcats.


The Topsail varsity volleyball team. Photo courtesy- Topsail Volleyball.
The Topsail varsity volleyball team. Photo courtesy- Topsail Volleyball.


Head Coach: Hill Pearsall

2015 record: 15-10 overall, 7-5 conference

Key players

  • Victoria Elder, senior, middle hitter.
  • Angelica Biele, junior, outside hitter/setter.
  • Makenna Preville, libero.
  • Kate Ramsey, sophomore, middle hitter (MH).


Head Coach: Larry Salefsky (second season)

2015 record: 10-10 overall, 4-8 conference

Key players

  • Dana Craig, senior, opposite hitter.
  • Katherine Boudreau, junior, outside hitter.
  • Sam Luscher, junior, setter.
  • Olivia Berry, sophomore, setter.
  • Taylor Long, junior, middle blocker.
  • Carlie Deceilio, sophomore, middle blocker.
  • Avery Ange, freshman, defensive specialist.
  • Dani Yates, freshman, defensive specialist.
The Bucs are led by senior outside hitter Hannah Freas, left.
The Bucs are led by senior outside hitter Hannah Freas, left.


Head Coach: Seneca Redwood-Sawyerr (third season)

2015 record: 12-12 overall, 4-8 conference

Key players

  • Hannah Freas, senior, outside hitter, team leader last season with 161 kills.
  • Alex Erling, senior, setter.
  • Meredith Pooley, senior, defensive specialist.
  • Anna Morgan, junior, outside hitter.
  • Sarah Shropshire, junior, outside hitter.
  • Daylene Thompson, junior, middle hitter.
  • Alanne Francis, junior, defensive specialist.


The high volleyball circuit across #ilm today! 2nd stop of the day at Laney HS

A video posted by Joe Catenacci (@joecats19) on

Stop #3 today…Hoggard volleyball has been a tradition in #ilm #nc for 30years!

A video posted by Joe Catenacci (@joecats19) on