Brock Netter, Staff Writer
WAVERLY — When Waverly takes the volleyball court this coming fall, the Tigers will be under a new voice and direction for the first time since 2013.
Waverly has named Aleah Rhodes as its new head volleyball coach. She’ll be taking over the program following the resignation of veteran coach Nancy Terry.
“While teaching and living here in Waverly the last three years, my family and I have come to love this community,” Rhodes said. “I am coming into a very talented group of girls who coach Terry developed a good foundation of skills with. My first priority is getting to know the girls and building relationships while they begin to learn a new style of play. We are looking forward to the challenge.”
For those who might not recognize Rhodes’ name at first, you might remember her as former Piketon and SVC standout Aleah Pelphrey.
The former two-sport star shined on the volleyball court from 2011-2014, notching over 1,000 kills in her volleyball career, which included helping Piketon win its first tournament game since 1997 at the time. She currently ranks second in Piketon’s volleyball history with 1,001.
She furthered her volleyball career at the University of Rio Grande from 2014-2017, where she led the team in kills during her senior year with 355 while registering over 1,000 careers during her four-year career.
All those years spent on the volleyball court taught her the value of culture, which is something she says will be a point of emphasis throughout the program on day one.
“The most important thing I learned through my playing experience was the importance of team culture,” Rhodes said. “This includes putting a high priority on communication on-and-off the court. That that will be a foundation of our program. Respecting ourselves, each other, and the game will also be top priorities. We want to mold good, young people.”
Rhodes is walking into a situation where Waverly is returning most of its key contributors from setter Abbie Marshall to hitters Kelli Stewart, Sarah Thompson and Annie Slicott. And that’s among other rising talents following an 11-9 COVID-stricken season.
Waverly hasn’t won an SOC II championship since 2013 and hasn’t been to district tournament action since 2012, which is something Rhodes aims to change over the course of time.
“Getting our girls to embrace a new culture is our biggest goal in the short term,” Rhodes said. “I feel like volleyball is a great way that I can give back and impact young women. Ultimately, the goal is to compete for SOC II championships and win as many postseason games as possible.”