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ALL-AREA VOLLEYBALL: Massengale Player of the Year
Four years ago when the Mid-Valley's most dominant volleyball player was a gangly 12-year-old trying out for the team at Tierra Buena Elementary School, she was informed she would be relegated to the practice squad as a seventh grader.
That same year, she joined Feather River Volleyball Club and didn't make the power team.
Taylor Massengale toiled in volleyball for three years without much to show for it.
Never once did it enter her mind to just give up the sport altogether.
"I was kind of crushed," she said. "I wasn't the most uncoordinated person, but I was pretty uncoordinated."
She grew into her 6-foot-1 frame last season as a sophomore, when she led the River Valley High Falcons in kills and blocks as their starting middle blocker.
This season she led the Falcons to a share of the Tri-County Conference championship and a first round home game in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs — both were firsts for the program.
From the blacktop court of Tierra Buena, where she didn't know what running the slide meant, to now being regarded as a force in the TCC, Massengale has come a long way to become the Appeal-Democrat's 2011 All-Area Player of the Year.
She made the All-Area first team as a sophomore last year. As impressive as her 2010 season was, Massengale's numbers as a 16-year-old junior were ridiculous.
Her 278 kills and .470 hitting percentage both easily led the TCC. On defense, 59 of her 60 blocks were solo.
Before this season, River Valley coach Jenny Dove said the only thing missing from Massengale's repertoire was confidence. Last season, Dove said Massengale would be the most dominant player in the area by the time she was a senior.
Dove was right, Massengale just did it a year early. "She's a completely different player," Dove said. "She speaks her mind now and she isn't going to be stepped on or walked on.
"She constantly wants to improve, she's never satisfied with where she's at."
That's why Massengale is already at work with her North Valley Juniors 17-power club team, coached by local volleyball guru Julia Coats.
This winter she'll be balancing club volleyball with her basketball commitment. Massengale leads the Falcons varsity squad with an average of 7.2 rebounds per game.
She's been a two-sport athlete since middle school and started her volleyball playing days at the setter position. Being the floor captain helped Massengale learn the game and responsibilities of every position.
Dove said Massengale had the best set of hands in her class, hence why she played setter. When the varsity team's lack of height necessitated Massengale's promotion, Dove switched her to middle blocker.
"You can't stop her," Dove said. "She's going to be even harder to defend next year. Defensively, she gets to a lot of balls that save us."
Massengale always had the physical tools, it just took her awhile to gain that sense of confidence.
After being timid and unsure her first two years in the program, Massengale took it upon herself to become a leader this year.
"I can't really explain it, something inside me said 'I'm good,'" Massengale said. "I accepted I was tall, and that made me who I am and that's going to help me later in life."
Her challenge this club season is to start gaining recognition from NCAA programs with the ultimate goal of earning a scholarship from a Division I or Division II university.
This season she helped lay the groundwork for Falcon volleyball.
Luckily for River Valley, she isn't even close to being done yet.
"We just came into this season and said we need to do this for our school and the future of our volleyball program," Massengale said. "We had a lot of talent and we all came together. That team was amazing."
Marissa Clavelle, Sr., Marysville
A first team All-Area selection this past spring in softball, Clavelle excelled on the volleyball court for the Indians.
She was the only Indian selected to the All-Golden Empire League team after posting 178 kills.
She held a .187 hitting percentage and made 48 blocks (42 of which were solo). She also had 108 digs.
Maddie Collins, Jr., Yuba City
Collins was a force at the net for the Honkers all season.
She led the team in kills (201) and hitting percentage (.281). Her kill total ranked fourth in the TCC and her hitting percentage was third.
Collins made 57 blocks and led the Honkers, as well as the TCC, with 72 service aces.
Angela DeHaan, Sr., Sutter
DeHaan dominated the BVL this season.
She led the Huskies with 199 kills and her .271 hitting percentage led the BVL.
DeHaan's 38 service aces led the team. She also recorded 23 blocks.
She was an All-BVL selection and is also a member of the U.S. Women's Sitting Volleyball Team as part of the Paralympics.
Jacky Tanner, Sr. River Valley
Tanner did just about everything coach Jenny Dove asked of her.
She made the switch from outside hitter to middle blocker this season and made plays all over the court.
A first-team All-TCC selection, Tanner showed versatility on both offense and defense.
She amassed 129 kills, 21 blocks and 168 digs while basically never coming off the court.
Katelynne Cavalli, Sr., Sutter
The MVP of the Butte View League this season, Cavalli had no problem filling the shoes of Brenna McDonald at outside hitter.
She held a .225 hitting percentage with 190 kills and 77 errors in 503 chances.
Defensively, she recorded 44 total blocks and 60 digs.
She was selected to play in the 11th annual North vs. South Senior All-Star showcase at Butte College earlier this month and was also a third-team All-Northern Section pick.
Jamie Adams, Jr., Wheatland
Wheatland's junior captain was a floor commander this season.
Coach Ashley Anderson said Adams knew her position and everybody else's on the court like the back of her hand.
She led the BVL with 663 assists and was also one of the area's top servers.
She only made 10 service errors all season and, in one match, held serve for 16-straight points.
She also never left the court all season and played every point for the Pirates.
Andrea Hazel, Sr., Yuba City
She's on her way to Division-I St. Mary's College of California on a softball scholarship, but Hazel brought some of that tenacity from the catcher position to the back row at Honker Gym.
She easily led the area and TCC in digs this year with 386.
This was Hazel's second straight appearance on the TCC's first team after playing outside hitter as a junior in 2010.
Hazel also picked up 140 kills and 61 aces.