By Garrett Mitchell
The Woodruff volleyball team fell to Crescent in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs, ending its season prematurely, though a successful run for the Lady Wolverines has the program looking confidently to the future.
Woodruff has won 20 consecutive region matches over the past two seasons, defending their Region III title this year, and with a junior quartet of all-region players returning look to take the next step towards becoming one of the state’s top programs.
The Lady Wolverines, who finished conference play 10-0, saw four players named to the all-region team and middle hitter, junior Maddie Grace Runyans, was selected as the region player of the year. Runyans, also a star on the Lady Wolverines’ basketball team, was also named to the 3A All-State team, her first selection.
“It’s really cool to get all of those awards, but honestly, I couldn’t have done it without having good sets, good passes, and good coverage behind me,” Runyans said. “I appreciate it, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”
Joining Runyans on the all-region team are fellow middle hitter Brooke Bailey, setter Abigail Linder, and libero Sarah Chiffon, all juniors.
This season was not without its difficulties as well, with three key starters out simultaneously at one point for the Lady Wolverines. Still, Woodruff battled through the injuries on its way to yet another successful season.
“Losing players like that was tough, but we fought through it,” Runyans said. “I think it made us stronger because we realized that those players are important but we had people who could step up. When they came back it was even better.”
Runyans added that she looks forward to that the future holds for the program. With so much talent returning, and with a middle school program that has won multiple conference championships, the pipeline of talent feeding the Lady Wolverines’ program is as strong as ever,
“Coach (Heather) Abrams decided to slow things down this year and not run quicks and next year I feel like we’re going to be really ready for that,” she said. “I think it may throw some people off next year because they are not used to seeing us do that.”