Two-time champ Donoho prepares to open defense of volleyball title
by Jordan Smith
Special to The Star
Aug 29, 2013 | 1958 views |  0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Donoho’s Corey Phillis blocks a ball against Meek Wednesday in the AHSAA Volleyball Elite Eight State Tournament. (Photo by Stephen Gross)
Donoho’s Corey Phillis blocks a ball against Meek Wednesday in the AHSAA Volleyball Elite Eight State Tournament. (Photo by Stephen Gross)
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There is a word that scares Donoho head volleyball coach Janice Slay: dynasty.

But, with the Falcons winning the 1A state championship in 2012, 2011 and finishing as the state runner-up in 2010, onlookers are sure to toss that word around.

“I don’t deal in words like dynasty,” said Slay, who is entering her fifth season as the Falcons’ coach. “I think Donoho has spoken for itself.”

That is an understatement. Donoho, which opens its season this week, has won state 10 times, fifth most titles in state history. The fact that it is a private school makes this feat all the more special.

“We don’t have kids pouring out of the woodwork to pick and choose from,” said Slay. “Our kids have to work really hard. They have to do some extra work off campus to be able to stay in the race with public schools.”

A word that Slay is a little bit more comfortable with is “rebuilding” -- it is an art the Falcons appear to have mastered. They entered the 2012 season after losing four seniors from the 2011 championship team and now enter the 2013 season having lost four seniors from the 2012 championship team.

Even with so many departures, Donoho’s goal has remained the same: “Just go out there, beat them and win,” Slay said.

Slay will look to her “core” to help make that familiar rebuilding process a success yet again. By core, she was referring to seniors Rylee Segrest and Corey Phillis. Segrest has already committed to play for Birmingham-Southern. She will be the lone setter in the Falcons’ new one-setter offense. This is unfamiliar territory for her, as she has never played in a one-setter offense, even in club ball.

“It’s going to be different,” Segrest said. “But it’s a good leadership role.”

Corey Phillis plays middle blocker and said she is ready to step into that leadership role with Segrest. Phillis has offers from Dartmouth and the University of Chicago and was named to the Junior Volleyball Association’s All-National 17-and-Under Team for her play on her club team, Team Sting Volleyball Club. She is also on the Under Armor All-American watch list and was named to the North team of the North/South All-Star game, the only 1A player named to the team.

With players who have such accolades and the success of rebuilding on the fly, the Falcons could be poised to win a third straight. Even so, Slay refers to the word dynasty as “kind of a far reaching thing.”

“It’s a nice thought,” she said.
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