Experienced Harlan squad anticipating a big season in 2022


Tyler Helton

Team members include, from left, front row: Ella Farley, Kameron Blanton, Kendyll Blanton, Tess Bryson, Emma Owens, Marissa Marlowe, Campbell Nunez, Mallory McNiel, Carley Thomas and Taylor Hall; back row: Ava Nunez, Haven Saylor, Hannah Jones, Shawna Cox, Heather Maples, Annie Hoskins, Carly Jump and Kaylee Roark.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

With all six of her starters returning this fall, Harlan volleyball coach Shawna Cox likes where her program is headed going into the 2022 season.
“We are definitely a growing team with several new players joining us this year from seventh grade and up, along with several of my varsity players returning,” said Cox, who led the Lady Dragons to a 7-9 mark last season.
Marissa Marlowe, a senior, and Annie Hoskins, a sophomore, are expected to play big roles for the Lady Dragons at the net. Marlowe led Harlan in blocks last season with 22 and Hoskins was second with 16.
“Marissa and Annie have really stepped it up at the net,” Cox said. “We have a lot of talent on our team with each player growing stronger.”
Emma Owens, a junior who plays point guard for the Harlan basketball team, is also good at setting up her teammates in volleyball as she led the Lady Dragons with 41 assists last season, along with adding a team-high 92 digs.
Carley Thomas, a standout sophomore who was sidelined with injuries late last season, is back after recording 45 digs and 14 kills.
“Carley is returning this year after an injury. She is stronger than ever,” Cox said.
Campbell Nunez, a junior, was third on the team last season in digs with 39 and fourth in assists with 21. Kendyll Blanton, also a junior, recorded 17 kills and 13 digs.
Mallory McNiel has been slowed by an injury after recording 33 digs and 15 assists last season as a sophomore.
Ella Farley and Ava Nunez, both sophomores, and junior Tess Bryson provide depth.
After two straight first-round postseason exits and five consecutive losing seasons, the Lady Dragons like their chances to compete for a district title as they try to end Bell County’s three-year run as 52nd District champs. Harlan opens its season on Tuesday at home against Middlesboro.
I think we have a really solid team this year,” Cox said. “I cannot wait to see how far they go.”