2022 Fall Preview: East Newton Volleyball


By Chris Parker

East Newton volleyball took a big step forward last year improving from a winless season in 2020 to a six-win season in 2021.

“We made huge progress. Our program really measures growth in a number of ways not just the win-loss column, but that definitely was a confidence building experience to get on the right side of the scoreboard,” East Newton head coach Ashley Brown said. “Honestly, patience is going to be our key (to continued improvement). I believe doing things the right way over a long period of time is a key to success. Our world is so used to instantaneous results but for our program to be successful over the long haul, we have to keep making our strides, putting in the work, and building the culture that athletes want to be a part of.”

East Newton graduated a group of three seniors who played in a majority of last year’s sets including first-team all-conference selection Kenzie Massey.

Three seniors and a junior return for East Newton this year. That group includes Kennedy Lucke (senior), Shyanne Thornton (senior), Aubrey Payne (senior) and Cameran Clement (junior).

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Lucke is a four-year letterwinner who led the team in assists with 282 last year.

“Kennedy Lucke will return for her senior year as our setter,” Brown said. “She is a four-year letter winner who will bring experience and consistency to our offense.”

Thronton had 73 kills as a junior.

“Shyanne Thornton will return as an outside or middle for our group,” Brown said. “She has been asked to play a little bit of everything for us the last few years and she has really developed into a complete player. I believe she is going to have a great senior season due to the work she has put in during the offseason.”

Payne will see her role expand after playing in 47 of 97 sets last year.

“Aubrey Payne is a versatile athlete who will join us in a more permanent varsity role this year,” Brown said. “She has seen action as a right side, outside, and defensive specialist this summer and is just a great leader and asset to have in our program.”

Clement will look to expand her offensive game after posting a team-high 24 blocks last year.

“Cameran Clement will return to the varsity lineup after leading us in blocks last season she looks to add more firepower to our offense,” Brown said.

Kassidy Hance (junior) and Josie Guinn (senior) are two new upperclassmen to the varsity lineup.

Hance will switch to playing on the front row this year.

“Kassidy Hance will step away from setting this fall and look to add depth to our front row,” Brown said. “She puts up a big block and will compete for a starting role on the middle or right side.”

Guinn will be a sparkplug on defense.

“Josie Guinn joins us as a defensive specialist,” Brown said. “She is working hard in the gym. Her quickness and natural instinct serve her well on the defensive side of the ball.”

Brown expects a pair of freshmen in Allie Anderson and Kadie Sesay to factor in on varsity.

“Allie Anderson and Kadie Sesay are both freshman with tremendous potential,” Brown said. “They’ve been working hard on the outside and in the back row. Both have seen some six rotation time this summer. Allie brings a strong platform and Kadie brings a powerful swing. I look forward to watching both of them grow as players this fall.”

The returners combined with the newcomers have given East Newton a depth that will be a major asset during the season.

“I am so excited to have kids down the bench who I feel confident can come in and contribute,” Brown said. “It is going to improve the competitiveness in our gym, and that in itself will benefit us for years to come.”

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East Newton will travel to Pierce City for a jamboree on Aug. 23 before opening the regular season on Aug. 29 back at Pierce City.

“My expectations are for us to continue to grow and improve,” Brown said. “The Big 8 Conference is competitive every year. We will not be handed any favors so we’ve got to stay hungry and foster a competitive spirit in our own gym if we want to see it translate into wins this season.”

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