SHORT GAP- Entering the season, Frankfort volleyball coach Brooke Alkire-Higson knew the challenge it would be replacing a large and talented senior class from a year ago. It was a class that had success on and off the court, and one that advanced to the regional playoff round before falling to eventual state champion Oak Glen.

By Chapin Jewell
Tribune Correspondent
SHORT GAP- Entering the season, Frankfort volleyball coach Brooke Alkire-Higson knew the challenge it would be replacing a large and talented senior class from a year ago. It was a class that had success on and off the court, and one that advanced to the regional playoff round before falling to eventual state champion Oak Glen.
Alkire-Higson, however, felt her 2020 crop of girls, a group also accomplished on and off the court, had what it took to achieve the same level of success. In fact, the fact that these girls had spent every day practicing against last year’s talented group day in and day out, meant that they were battle tested.  Add also the work they had put in on their own in the off season and you had a recipe for success for this year’s Falcon squad.
Thus far, a brutal early season schedule that has included very good AAA teams Hampshire and Spring Mills, defending class AA state champion Oak Glen, and a much improved Keyser squad, however, has left the Falcons with not as many wins in the win column as they’d like.  In fact, the only wins have come against Pendleton and Tucker County on Senior Day thus far.
That being said, Alkire-Higson sees improvement day in and day out with her team and feels as if they’re headed in the right direction.  
“Our record does not reflect us just yet. We are getting there and have played some VERY tough teams to date. Our schedule is packed with tough AA and AAA teams to push us to be the best we can be. Every single day and every single game I watch it is starting to come together more and more,” Alkire-Higson stated.
According to Alkire-Higson, “We have lots of talents and strengths, and now it’s just executing that and shaking the nerves.”  
The Lady Falcons started the season with a trip to Sunrise Summit to take on a talented Hampshire Trojans squad.  In that match, Frankfort fell to Hampshire three games to zero by scores of 8-25, 12-25 and 19-25. Three game losses, but improved scores in each game.
Next it was on to Oak Glen to compete in a quad match at the home of the defending class AA state champions.  Against stiff competition, Frankfort would ultimately fall to host Oak Glen, Philip Barbour and Tyler Consolidated.  
Next on the slate was a match against Berkeley Springs that was cancelled as a result of COVID-19 related issues at Berkeley Springs.  Enter Senior Day at home on Saturday, Sep. 12 and a tri-match against Pendleton County and Tucker County. Entering the special day with a head to head record of 0-4, the Falcons were in need of a victory, and they got not one but two.
Frankfort first defeated Pendleton County two games to zero (25-23, 25-18), and then Tucker County two games to zero as well (25-11, 25-8).
On the day, Anna Shaffer had seven aces and 10 kills, Madison Middleton had seven aces, seven digs and 16 assists, and Jaden Rapson five aces, six kills and six digs.  In addition, Nia Smith added four aces, 10 digs and two kills, Jaci Rowe eight kills and one block, Payton Mandell eight digs, Mercedes Shook seven digs. Finally, Jaci Smith added three kills and two aces, Ann Ford two assists, and Jaclyn Yoder eight assists.
The wins were nice and were made doubly special as they came on Senior Day.
“My seniors are such a hard-working group of girls. They have spent year after year working towards their goals on and off the court. They are very close friends outside of volleyball and really pick each other up on the court and push one another,” Alkire-Higson stated.
“Ann Ford is such a versatile and chill player. She can and will play any spot I put her in and do an effective job.  She’s been such a pleasure to coach. Never complains.  Just comes every day and puts in hard work. Nia Smith is small and mighty. This kid can jump and I think she’s always a shock to the opposing team when they see her play. She’s a leader on the court and has a true passing for the game,” Alkire-Higson explained.
“Jaden Rapson is just an all-around, hard-working athlete.  Watching her grow over the past four years and gain a confidence and consistency in her play has been so enjoyable to watch. She keeps the girls pumped. Anna Shaffer, this girl is insanely talented. Her strength and drive to do better every single day is inspiring. I’ve watched her gain confidence and discipline on the court and she’s fun to watch play,” stated Alkire-Higson.
After the Senior Day victories, Frankfort traveled to Keyser on Sep. 15 to take on their county rivals and fell three games to zero (13-25, 25-20, 21-25, 9-25). Next came a home match against Spring Mills on Sep. 22.  Against the Cardinals, Frankfort fell three games to zero (12-25, 14-25, 14-25).
Against Spring Mills, Anna Shaffer had 12 kills, Jaci Rowe six kills, Jaden Rapson five kills and five digs.  In addition, Jaclyn Yoder added eight digs and eight assists, Payton Mandell five digs, and Madison Middleton five digs and eight assists.
Frankfort is slated to next host a tri-match with Keyser and Berkeley Springs on Saturday, Sep. 26.