Girls Volleyball: Nugent set for final Vernon Hills campaign
Vernon Hills' Brianna Bahlmann (left) tries to spike one past Maine East's Hannah Farley during action last week. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 1, 2012 3:53PM
Has it really been four years since the Vernon Hills volleyball squad brought up a freshman middle blocker named Shannon Nugent?
That first season, the Cougars gave her a middle blocking position, and she chipped in with 66 kills and 49 blocks.
Nice numbers for a ninth-grader. Now entering her final campaign with Vernon Hills, Nugent is ranked fourth in school history for kills.
“If she has a season similar to last year, she should easily be ranked No. 1 by the end of the season,” Vernon Hills coach Abbie Gutzmer said. “In addition to kills, she is also on pace to leave Vernon Hills High School as our career leader in aces. Which says a lot about what we have expected her to do since her freshmen year, since during that 2009 season, she served six total times.”
Yes, Nugent has become a major player in area volleyball.
“She grew from a strictly a middle hitter, to having a role as one of our more prolific servers, to making the move to right side and playing a large role both offensively and defensively, as she will spend little time off of the court,” Gutzmer said. “She also knows the game so well, and a lot of our opponents, so that she is a third coach for us out on the court — both helping with improving the players around her as well as giving on-the-court scouting reports.
“A lot of times, we say about players on opposing teams, ‘Man, it feels like they have been there forever.’ And I am certain that there are coaches that feel the same way about Shannon. It just seems as though she has always been around.”
A season ago, the Cougars won 22 matches. And with a young team in camp, the Cougars will need Nugent’s help to win matches this season. Add the power hitting of her fellow senior, Jenn Claussen, to the mix as well.
“Jenn is a power outside hitter who has the ability to dominate at her position,” Gutzmer said. “She, too, has worked on her ability to hit from any spot on the court, and we will look to utilize her in both front-row and back-row positions. She is a natural leader that will be looked to more — not just for her playing abilities but her leadership skills as well.”
Other veterans to watch this fall include senior middle hitter Brianna Bahlmann and Jasmine Tamalunas. Sophomore setter Tori Smith is another player to watch.
Recap: The Cougars split their first two matches of the season. Vernon Hills edged Maine East 23-25, 25-15, 25-17 on Aug. 22, and then fell to a good Fremd squad 25-13, 25-23 the next day.
“We dug ourselves a hole that was very difficult to climb out of, since Fremd is just such a good team,” Gutzmer said. “Once we start limiting the errors we make on our side of the court, and just gain some experience, I think that we will be a pretty tough squad.”~