Taylor Hartrick arrived on the Ashland campus two autumns ago as a shy bundle of athletic potential, with an unquenchable love of volleyball but not quite sure what the future might hold.

Taylor Hartrick arrived on the Ashland campus two autumns ago as a shy bundle of athletic potential, with an unquenchable love of volleyball but not quite sure what the future might hold. Her path to stardom over the past three seasons has been one that every coach and player would like to emulate.

Hartrick, a 5-11 senior middle blocker for the Grizzlies, was voted the Player of the Year in the Southern Sky Conference this season in a vote of league volleyball coaches. Fittingly, she is one of four Grizzlies named to the seven-player first team. AHS coach Jodee Scott was a repeat choice as Coach of the Year.

"I think Taylor, as a middle blocker, she's a tall girl and she plays all the way around," Scott said. "Since the libero position has been put in place at the high school level that doesn't happen very often where a middle blocker will also play back row."

Hartrick is the fourth straight Ashland player to earn league POY honors, following Lindsey Stone (2005), Natalie Lefler (2006) and Heidi Siebenlist (2007), all of whom were setters. Hartrick has been a part of three consecutive SSC championship teams and never lost a conference match. She was a reserve as a sophomore, a second-team all-league pick last season and capped her career as the best player on the league's best team.

"I went from somebody who was learning from the older girls how to be the leader and then they left and I became one of the leaders on the team," she said earlier this season.

Joining Hartrick on the first team are Ashland senior outside hitter Asia Kane (.311 hitting percentage, 3.7 kills, 3.4 digs per game), senior setter Kiley Pinder (6.4 assists, 3.2 digs per game) and junior outside hitter Niki Small (.291, 2.3 kills, .7 blocks per game). Other first-teamers include junior Taylor Mackey of Crater and seniors Erin Hedrick of Eagle Point and Jennifer Saltenberger of Mazama.

The Grizzlies (23-12-1), who swept through SSC play without losing a game, dominated the all-league team with four first-teamers and six overall selections. Crater was second (one first-teamer, five overall), followed by Eagle Point (one, four overall), Mazama (one, three overall) and Klamath Union (none, three overall).

Junior outside hitter Hayley Ross (.234, 2.1 kills per game) earned second-team honors, while senior Amanda Good (.9 blocks per game) was an honorable mention.

"I'm very proud of them but I think it's very well-deserved," Scott said. "They've worked amazingly hard all season and accomplished a lot in the conference and I'm really proud of them. I'm glad that their achievements were recognized."

It was Hartrick's all-around game that gave her the nod for Player of theYear honors. She led the team in hitting percentage (.328), was second to Kane in kills (2.8 per game), led the team in blocks (1.1) and was second in digs (3.8)

"You have to have great skills on serve receive, on defense and we actually use her on serve receive even when she's in the back row because she has such great ball control," Scott said. "And the other coaches in the conference, they said, 'She hits, she blocks, she passes, she plays defense and she even sets from the middle sometimes and you can't tell where she's setting,' so for them, that just put her over the top."

Typical of her team-first mentality, Hartrick said the award meant more because of the players around her.

"After practice one day we all stood in our circle and talked then they were announced," she said. "It was fantastic because when they announced it everyone who got all the awards was surrounded by the team and got all the hugs in the world "¦ a fuzzy moment."

Scott, in her second season at the helm after coming to Ashland from the Eugene area, has yet to lose a conference match. She successfully integrated a group of underclassmen to replace graduating seniors and kept the team focused in a season in which it would have been easy to succumb to complacency. Her teams have placed third and fourth, respectively, at the Class 5A state tournament the past two seasons.

All-SOUTHERN SKY CONFERENCE VOLLEYBALL

First Team

Player Yr. School

Taylor Hartrick Sr. Ashland

Asia Kane Sr. Ashland

Kiley Pinder Sr. Ashland

Niki Small Jr. Ashland

Taylor Mackey Jr. Crater

Jennifer Saltenberger Sr. Mazama

Erin Hedrick Sr. Eagle Point

Player of the Year: Taylor Hartrick, Ashland

Coach of the Year: Jodee Scott, Ashland

Second Team

Player Yr. School

Hayley Ross Jr. Ashland

Kayla Hopkinson Jr. Crater

Kristin Wyatt Jr. Eagle Point

Megan Tripp Sr. Klamath Union

Kelsea MacPhee So. Mazama

Katie Higgins Sr. Crater

Marina Fischer Jr. Klamath Union

Honorable Mention: Amanda Good, Jr., Ashland; Kelsey Grant, Sr., Crater; Dennae Grant, So., Crater; McKensie Re, So., Eagle Point; Alyssa Brown, Sr., Eagle Point; Deandra Mageo, So., Mazama; Kara Herron, Sr., Klamath Union.