The Chronicle’s 2019 All-Area Volleyball Team: Viking Crew Sets the Pace on All-Area Volleyball Team
Triple Threat: Andee Nelson Earns MVP; Napavine, Toledo, Onalaska, and W.F. West All Represented
By Jordan Nailon
Sometimes the most difficult person to describe is yourself, even when you’ve been named the MVP of The Chronicle’s All-Area volleyball team. That’s why Mossyrock’s dynamic outside hitter, Andee Nelson, uses beasts of burden as a frame of reference.
“We went to this camp called Guy Enriques, he’s a big coach in Hawaii, and his thing is he has a Beast and a Horse. The Beast is the person you go to when you need a kill or when you need a sideout, so I think that’s what I was this year,” said Nelson, who racked up 303 kills, 193 digs, 35 aces, and 15 blocks on the season.
A 5’9” senior, who was also tabbed as MVP of the Central 2B League in a vote by the coaches, Nelson was flanked by fellow Vikings Faith Mulligan and Morgan Houghtelling on the All-Area squad. Next year Nelson will be suiting up for Centralia College.
“We had a lot of different people who could put the ball away easily…I think Faith, if we needed a kill to we could go to her in the back row. Maybe she was the Horse and I was the Beast.”
Mulligan, a 5’7” senior, spent her senior campaign donning the libero’s jersey again for the C2BL champion and District IV champion Mossyrock team that wound up taking third place at state. She was rewarded with a first-team C2BL selection after connecting on 97 percent of her serves this season with 22 aces. She also notched 57 kills, and 269 digs as the Vikings’ serve-receive specialist.
Mossyrock had placed second at State for three years leading up to this season. Nelson says it was weird to miss out on the championship game but nice to walk off the court with a win in her final contest.
“I feel like it was a little bit of a letdown that we didn’t make it but I think we were all still super proud of how we did… We were all just excited we placed so well. We wish we would have gotten first or second but we were all still happy we got third and the seniors got to end on a win,” explained Nelson. “It was fun for me because playing with my sister, she never got to end on a win. So it was nice to have those bragging rights.”
One player who will be returning for Mossyrock next year is Houghtelling, their 5’7” stalwart setter. Houghtelling, a junior, connected on 93 percent of her serves this season with 42 aces and was chosen as a second-team member of the C2BL. What’s more, she dished a whopping 502 assists with 116 digs and 10 blocks mixed in for good measure.
“At first I was a little bit nervous but then I got into it and really liked it,” said Houghtelling of her seamless transition to setter this season. “Honestly, it’s really awesome. I love setting and running different plays with them.”
Surveying the 2A ranks, W.F. West was able to land two players on the All-Area team after finishing third in the 2A Evergreen Conference and qualifying for the District tournament. Not coincidentally, both of those Bearcats were selected as Co-MVP’s of their team while also earning nods to the All-State team.
Ashlyn Whalen, a 5’9” senior, was a first-team 2A EvCo selection as an outside hitter. A Boise State signee for softball, Whalen was voted Most Inspirational by her teammates this year while amassing 74 kills with a 52-percent hitting percentage.
“She’s just an awesome kid. We lost a lot offensively after her junior year so I had to talk to her. I said you’ve been a libero the last two years but I’m going to need to move you around now because of your versatility,” noted W.F. West coach Emily Mora.
Mora also raved about Whalen’s leadership qualities and willingness to help coordinate traffic on the court and during practice.
“Not in the sense that she’s telling people what to do. She’s just that constant reassurance for anyone who’s ever played with her,” explained Mora. “I always hear all my JV and C-team girls talking about how Ashlyn is the full package. She’s smart. She’s kind. She’s athletic.”
At one point this year Whalen was even able to set the school record for most digs in a match with 31. That glory was short-lived however as fellow senior Payge Crawford managed to accumulate 49 digs in the Bearcats very next match.
However, it was Crawford’s sister, Paytton, who managed to make the All-State team along with the All-Area team. Paytton, a 5’6” senior setter, was also a first-team 2A EvCo selection for the Bearcats. Like her sister, she holds a school record after setting the mark for assists in a game last year. In her fourth year earning a varsity letter, Crawford was able to dish 282 assists with an 89.6 percent passing efficiency.
“Paytton is just relentless. She’s not going to let a single ball drop. She’s going to go after everything and she never gives up,” said Mora, who expects Crawford to play two sports at Centralia College next year. “Since day one she’s had to take on a pretty significant role for us and she’s done very well.”
Although they are separated by two classifications, from 2B to 2A, Nelson noted that the world of volleyball rotates in small circles that left her familiar with a few of the Bearcats in particular.
“I knew some of the girls because I’ve played club with them,” said Nelson. “Payge and Paytton Crawford, I’m pretty good friends with them so I knew their personalities. When we played our first game against them, Payge and Paytton would just talk to me and say, ‘Well, you’re better than us so I’m just going to distract you the whole time.’ It was fun getting to play them but it was so hard to focus because they’d constantly say stuff.”
Back in the 2B ranks, Napavine found representation on the All-Area team thanks to Haily Murray. A 6’0” junior, Murray played all over the court for the Tigers and earned first team All-C2BL honors in a season where injuries and illnesses were the team’s biggest enemy.
“We leaned on her a lot. There were times where we had to say, unfortunately, because we’ve never really had to say it in the past, but, ‘Just feed her the ball! We need some points. Just feed her the ball,’” said Napavine coach Monica Dailey.
Picking up on the draft animal theme, Dailey called Murray the team’s “workhorse” but noted that Vannie Fagerness was the only Tiger who did not miss any time this season. Meanwhile, before an ankle injury derailed her efforts in the District tournament, Murray piled up 278 kills, 52 aces, 46 block-kills and 35 blocks in the regular season.
“She did a great job taking on that burden for our team,” said Dailey. “She’s not the type of player that lives for accolades. She wants to do well for her team. She’s not a glory hound I guess is what you would say.”
In Toledo it was a resurgent season for the Cheese Town spikers who set the school record for wins (13) and finished one game shy of a state berth.
No player was more instrumental to that success than Emma Cline-Maier. A 5’6” junior, tallied 51 kills and 97 assists in the regular season and wound up as a second team selection in the C2BL coaches poll.
“She was our setter. We ran a 6-2 and she had the second highest number of kills for our whole team. Several of those were setter dumps. Others were actual kills because she was hitting half the time,” noted Toledo coach Candace Maier. “She had a great attitude. She would play anywhere I asked her to. You ask her to do something and she tries to do it.”
Onalaska managed to stay in the thick of the Central 2B battle with plenty of bumps by Eryn Duryea. A 5’8” outside hitter, Duryea was voted a first-team All-C2BL selection in her senior campaign.
“Eryn is an awesome leader. She has been since her freshman year. She was team captain, I think, starting as a sophomore. She really understands the game well and the kids know that she does so they really look to her,” said Onalaska coach Terri Dalsted.
Duryea kept 217 of 230 serves (94-percent) in frame during the regular season while tallying 233 digs on the defensive side. She also notched 164 kills and 15 block-kills.
“She loves passing. It’s her favorite. She’s a really good outside hitter as well,” said Dalsted, who added that Duryea has also signed on to play volleyball at Centralia College next season.
With an All-Area reunion slated for next fall at Michael Smith Gymnasium in Trailblazer blue and yellow, Nelson is excited to see what exciting new chapters and memorable characters might wind up in their volleyball story.
“Me and Faith have both played with Eryn in club volleyball for a long time, and that was pretty cool because we’re all close with each other,” noted Nelson. “Now we’re going to be able to play two more years together, which will be fun.”
The Chronicle’s 2019
All-Area Volleyball Team
Andee Nelson, Mossyrock
Faith Mulligan, Mossyrock
Morgan Houghtelling, Mossyrock
Ashlyn Whalen, W.F. West
Paytton Crawford, W.F. West
Eryn Duryea, Onalaska
Haily Murray, Napavine
Emma Cline-Maier, Toledo