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New district brings volleyball changes

SoVaNow.com / August 29, 2013
There are differences for the Halifax County High School varsity volleyball team, like how the Comets make the playoffs.

Following moves to put HCHS in the new 5-A classification (there are now six overall, including 4-, 5- and 6- A), most Comet sports teams, including volleyball, have to compete in a new four-team conference to set the regional qualifiers.

So, these Comet spikers, who appear to have real potential, must go through the Piedmont district regular season, then the tournament. From there, regardless of the outcome of matches against the Piedmont district, the spikers will compete in a four-team conference, involving HCHS, Patrick Henry-Ashland, Orange and Albemarle. There will be two semifinals, and the winners move on to the conference finals. Both of the conference finalists go to the regionals, part of a 12-team group there.

HCHS coach Tiffaney Bratton has a new district and a completely new playoff format, and the Comets also lost six seniors, including five starters.

“We’re kind of starting over,” she said.

Franklin County and GW-Danville joined the new-look Piedmont district, as HCHS has new opponents.

Bratton nevertheless believes she has a talented, hard-working group that jelled together over the summer.

The regular season will help HCHS prepare for the postseason, and HCHS has some athletic talent on the squad.

Bratton has a particular style for the Comets to play.

“We’re a bump, set, spike team. We’ve got some really heavy hitters,” said Bratton.

Halifax has Whitney White, who has powerhouse blocking and hitting ability. White also has refined her game by playing in international prep competition in Europe in the past couple of seasons.

Chris Bradshaw has a good vertical leap, and shows near perfect form on her hitting. Taylor Barnes, all-state in softball last spring, is a fine athlete and a solid spiker.

Gabby Spainhour has also improved her game sharply and is a better overall performer. Cecilie Elliott, another softball standout, is a fine athlete and an all-around performer.

Logan Redd also adds depth.

Madison Puryear is also showing more maturity as an athlete, and will help with setting. Megan Puckett, another softball standout, is battling back issues, but has the potential to be a real leader.

Brittani Boxley is another athlete coming into her own, and promising player Megan Nunn will help with back row play. “We’ve got a good squad. The more we play, the better we get, which is a really good thing,” said the head coach.

HCHS has to get accustomed to the new format, but Bratton said, “If we play our game, we can compete with anybody.”

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