One of the most dominant volleyball programs in the area, Middleburg High School, placed four players on the "1st Team" for the 2017 season. Fleming Island had two players selected by the coaches of Clay County while one player, from Oakleaf High School, rounded out the team. These seven players represent the very best in Clay County volleyball. The head coaches of the seven high schools met in order to select these players, along with those placed on the "2nd Team" and "Honorable Mention" teams. The "1st Team" selections will be invited to the May 10 celebration, along with the other athletes from the high school sports programs.
The top two setters in the county are Jillian Bemis from MHS and Nataleigh Nieuwenhuis of Fleming Island High School. Nieuwenhuiss, a senior, helped lead FIHS to a 15-7 record and was a key player in the offense. She recorded 37 aces, is considered an excellent server, had 141 digs, and further evidence of her skills at the setter position - recorded 409 assists. Fleming Island volleyball coach, Amy Walker, describes her senior setter as "making great strides over the years. She has a true passion for the game and has dedicated countless hours to perfecting her craft." Walker, a longtime volleyball coach, added that Nieuwenhuis has an "effortless touch on the ball." When asked about her highlight of the year, Nieuwenhuis said, "beating Bartram Trail in a tight match." Upon graduating, Nieuwenhuis hopes to play volleyball at Florida Gateway College.
Longtime MHS volleyball coach, Carrie Prewitt, has a dominating group on the "1st Team." Junior Jillian Bemis, a setter, helped lead MHS to the regional quarterfinals. Along the way, she recorded 256 assists, 164 kills, and 154 digs. "Jillian is a team player who works hard to contribute in many facets of our game," said Coach Prewitt. An example of Prewitt's assessment, Bemis credits the team for its goal-setting meetings and viewed a team trip to Itchnatucknee Springs as a bonding moment. "She does an outstanding job of running our offense. She is aggressive at the net, is a tough server and an effective defensive player. One of our most complete players," added Prewitt. Just a junior, 2018 should be another big year for Bemis.
Joing Bemis from MHS on the "1st Team" is the trio of Tonee Hughes, Mallory Roney, and Britany Range. Hughes, a junior, is the "1st Team" utility selection. "Tonee was our captain this year and her leadership skills, as well as her performance skills, helped our team in the backcourt," said Prewitt. Hughes recorded 163 digs and her passing skills were critical to the MHS offense. Her future goal is to go to college for physical therapy or nursing.
Fellow junior Mallory Roney was the leading point scorer this past season for MHS. As an outside hitter, her attacking and service skills were evident throughout the year (254 kills; 53 aces). Prewitt commented on Roney, "Mallory is very athletic, competitive and impacts our team in a big way offensively and defensively." Roney enjoys hanging out with her friends and plans on seeking an educational degree in her future college plans.
Range, the final MHS player selected for the "1st Team," is just a sophomore. Covering the middle position for the Broncos, she would like to play basketball in college and is considered the most improved player for the MHS juggernaut. "Her presence on the court was important to our team," said Prewitt. She had 89 total blocks, 74 kills and 37 digs. She did a little bit of everything out there." With two years of eligibility left, look for Range to improve upon those statistics.
Fleming Island's Emily Charbonneau, a senior for the Golden Eagles was instrumental in the team growth this year. The outside hitter has a future goal of attending and playing volleyball at Reinhardt University. Charbonneau was described by her coach as a "powerhouse hitter." Having recorded 250 kills, Coach Walker described her senior outside hitter as an "all-around complete player who can do it all." The highlight of the year for Charbonneau was when FIHS defeated New Smyrna Beach in a close match.
Oakleaf High School's Andrea Merced, a senior, helped lead her team in 2017. Selected as the "1st Team" defensive specialist, Merced was described by Coach Jennifer Parrett as one of the hardest working players that she has coached. "Andrea always gives 100% when she steps on the court. She will be missed next year, but I look forward to following her in college," said Coach Parrett. Merced is proud of the fact that she set a school record of 1,000 digs in her three-year career at the school. She plans on studying sports medicine in college.
Clay "All-County Coaches Teams" Volleyball Selections:
Position School Name
Setter MHS Jillian Bemis
FIHS Natalie Nieuwenhuis
Middle MHS Brittany Range
Def. Specialist OHS Andrea Merced
Outside Hitter MHS Mallory Roney
FIHS Emily Charbonneau
Utility Player MHS Tonee Hughes
Position School Name
Setter MHS Jenna Bemis
RHS Brooke Rohrer
Middle FIHS Erin Lebesch
Def. Specialist CHS Hannah Forbes
Outside Hitter CHS Kelley Catlett
FIHS Kaci Hollenbacher
Utility Player OHS Kaitlann Knudson
Position School Name
Setter CHS Kelsie Savage
KHHS Emily Loose
Middle RHS Jonae Sanders
Def. Specialist MHS Olivia Beauchain
Outside Hitter KHHS Madison heskett
OHS Bryanna Parrett
Utility Player RHS Saige Rivers
Below is a picture of the 1st Team "All-County Coaches Team."
(From left to right): Andrea Merced, Jillian Bemis, Mallory Roney, Brittany Range, Tonee Hughes, Natalie Nieuwenhuis, Emily Charbonneau