ALL-AREA VOLLEYBALL: Toney takes area’s top prize

Ellie Toney

CORUNNA — Ellie Toney was doubly tough for opposing volleyball teams to handle.

The Corunna junior — who was a standout attacker and standout setter, as well as a fine all-around player and leader — has been named The Argus-Press All-Area 2020 Volleyball Player of the Year.

Toney was a unanimous first-teamer in the Flint Metro League Stars Division for the third year in a row, as well as a Division 2 all-region selection for the third straight season. The team captain had 166 kills and 265 assists for the Cavaliers.

Besides leading the team in those two statistics, she also led Corunna in aces (37), points (214), fewest receiving errors (1) and kills per set (2.8). Toney served 93.5 percent and added 150 digs and 22 blocks.

Toney felt she improved her setting the most. For the first two-thirds of the season, she shared the setting responsibilities with middle blocker/setter Neele’ge’ Sims. Sims, an all-region player and unanimous first-team all-leaguer herself, was injured in a car crash that took the life of her brother on Oct. 10 and missed the rest of the season.

“I was setting and I was playing middle and when the (accident) happened, I started setting all around,” Toney said. “I didn’t hit at all toward the end of the season … Last year I started setting, but I definitely worked at it more in practice this year. I think I got better at it and hopefully I helped my teammmates as much as I could.”

Corunna coach Kari Carnell said Toney’s biggest role was running the offense and making her teammates better.

“She spent most of the year running our offense, rather than hitting and we kind of focused on that and especially after Neele’ge’ got hurt she just totally set for us — we didn’t use her as an attacker,” Carnell said. “But she’s just a phenomenal athlete. She’s very well rounded and she just picks up on things very quickly. Basketball is her No. 1 (sport), but in high school I think she really enjoys playing volleyball. She’s just a natural leader and we depend on her to do a lot of things.”

Toney said the season highlight for her was when Corunna played an emotionally charged home match against Clio Oct. 20 with Sims watching from the sideline.

“That was the best volleyball match I probably ever played in — just a different type of energy,” Toney said. “We lost the first set by quite a bit and we were a little upset by that. Neele’ge’ was able to come to that game and the next couple of sets we came together as a team. We were positive the whole time. We came back and beat them. Just the energy of that game was a different type of energy, like a different feel in the gym. It was just awesome. Everyone contributed in that game and everyone played hard.”

Corunna won 12-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-21 as Toney had 15 assists, seven kills and 19 digs.

Toney was also named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) phenom watchlist this season.

2020 Argus-Press All-Area Volleyball Team

Player of the Year

Ellie Toney, Corunna

The junior was doubly impressive with 166 kills and 265 assists this season as a middle blocker/setter for the 15-7 Cavaliers.

The three-time all-region and three-time unanimous all-leaguer also led the Cavaliers in aces (37), points (214), fewest serve receive errors (1) and kills per set (2.8).

First Team

Maddie Davis, Byron

Davis, a senior outside hitter, finished with 259 kills, 164 digs, 10 blocks and 33 aces. She had a season-high 35 kills in a five-set win over Morrice. Davis helped Byron finish 17-7-2 overall and second in the MMAC.

Carley Martin, New Lothrop

The sophomore outside hitter powered 209 kills with 55 aces for the Hornets. Martin added 337 digs, served 92 percent and also had 14 blocks. She was a team captain.

Karissa Ferry, Chesaning

The Division 2 all-region selection powered 159 kills with a .301 kill efficiency and 67 blocks from her middle hitter position. Ferry, a senior, served 97 percent with 112 digs and made just three serve receive errors all season.

Pearl Schmidt, Byron

The junior made the Eagles’ offense go by racking up an-area-best 489 assists this season with 181 digs and 58 aces. The setter added 59 kills.

Ally Colthorp, Morrice

The unanimous Genesee Area Conference Blue first selection averaged six digs per set and led the Orioles in aces (52 in the regular season). The libero covered plenty of ground for the Orioles, who won thier first league title in 13 years, going 6-0 in the GAC Blue and 11-4 overall.

Neele‘ge’ Sims, Corunna

The sophomore, a middle hitter/setter, was named to the Division 2 all-region squad and was a unanimous first-team selection in the Flint Metro League Stars Division. Although injuries sustained in a tragic car accident cut short the last third of her season, Sims still finished with 107 kills, 138 assists, 81 digs and 40 blocks.

Second Team

Kendall Ihm, Owosso

The sophomore middle hitter/setter had 175 kills, 64 blocks, 110 assists and 102 digs for the Trojans this season. Owosso’s MVP and team captain, who played in all 72 sets this season, had 30 aces and was a member of and Flint Metro Second Team.

Marissa Rombach, New Lothrop

The freshman middle hitter had 163 kills, 44 blocks and 24 aces while serving 91 percent for the Hornets.

Alivia Gilson, Durand

The senior libero was a standout defender for the Railroaders. Gilson totaled 491 digs and twice registered 40 or more digs in a single match — 43 against Chesaning and 40 against Ovid-Elsie. Gilson also had 34 aces and was a team captain.

Paige Bigelow, Perry

The junior outside hitter racked up 133 kills this season and served 91 percent. She had 33 aces with 160 digs. Bigelow was named a first-teamer in the Greater Lansing Athletic Conference.

Sophie Dittrich, Laingsburg

The senior outside hitter had 142 kills with 210 digs, 42 aces and 10 blocks this season. She was voted a first-team selection in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference.

Emma Valentine, Morrice

The unanimous first-team all-GAC performer averaged 14 kills per match as well as two blocks per night from her middle hitter position. Valentine helped the Orioles win its first league championship in 13 years.

Honorable Mention

Jordan Langdon, Laingsburg, Sr., L

Mackenzie Pancheck, Durand, Sr., MH

Goldyn Graham, Durand, Sr., S

Allison Glass, Byron, Sr., MH

Madison Wendling, New Lothrop, Soph, L

Avery Krupp, New Lothrop, Soph., D/S/OH

Josalyn Stratton, Corunna, Jr., OH

Brielle Sovis, Owosso, Soph., L

Reese Thayer, Owosso, Fr., S

Kalista Bancroft, Ovid-Elsie, Jr., MH

Meghan Florian, Chesaning, Sr., DS/OH

Braylon Byrnes, Ovid-Elsie, S

Madison Cunningham, Ovid-Elsie, Sr.

Elaine Fisher, Perry, Sr., L

JaiLia Campos, Corunna, Sr., L

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