Aryel Phinney (above)
We are celebrating performances by athletes who competed at Mattoon and Charleston high schools from 2010-20. If some of your favorites are left off this list, please forgive us. It’s a difficult task selecting only a few among so many talented athletes.
From 2011-2018, Mattoon had one of the best stretches in volleyball that one could ask –– 249 wins, four Apollo Conference, six regional, and one sectional championship.
They also won 30 games for three successive seasons, including a school-record 32 in 2013.
Charleston then ended the decade by securing its first regional title in 21 years. Despite having just four winning seasons, the Trojans boasted players that redefined the record books.
Our All-Decade team features a starting line up with a 4-2 formation, with one libero, three on the bench, one that receives an apology, and one for fun.
Outside Hitter: Taylor Smith: MHS Class of 2015: Smith was the best overall volleyball player to come out of Coles County last decade. Smith was a catalyst for opposing teams during Mattoon’s three-year run of 30 wins or more. Smith’s senior season set school-records when she recorded 456 kills and 378 digs. She was the leader of Mattoon’s Elite 8 appearance in 2014. After high school, Smith enjoyed a four-year career at Eastern Illinois University.
Outside Hitter: Makenna Wilson: CHS Class of 2017: Wilson is the best hitter in CHS history after she became the first ever volleyball player to record over 300 kills in a season. Wilson smashed a school-record 317 kills in 2016 and a was a multi All-Apollo selection during her time. Wilson was a standout two-sport athlete and enters her senior year on the track team at Eastern Illinois University.
Middle Hitter: Lauren Nadler: CHS Class of 2015: Nadler and Smith were always a show when Mattoon and Charleston played each other. Both were the area’s best hitters. When Nadler left CHS, she was the career leader in kills with 577 kills and single season record holder with 266. However, her 21 kills in a game remain a record, and it was in Charleston’s upset win over Mattoon, their first win over the Lady Wave in nearly a decade. Nadler played at NCAA Division II Quincy University after high school.
Middle Hitter: Sierra Thompson: MHS Class of 2017: Thompson finished as the best blocker in Mattoon’s history. After finishing her junior season tied for the school record in blocks (52), Thompson broke the record her senior year with 71. Thompson played a role on varsity teams all four years. Thompson went on to play basketball at Bowling Green University.
Setter: Emily Watson: MHS Class of 2016: Watson remains the record holder for single season assists (685) and career assists (1,104). When it comes to setters, Watson played a role on three Regional title teams. Watson played at Lake Land College after high school.
Setter: Natalie Gordon: CHS Class of 2018: Gordon is the only player in CHS history with over 1,000 career assists, as she finished her career with 1,032. Gordon was a standout softball player and played at Lake Land College.
Libero: Katelyn Fisher: MHS Class of 2015: When Mattoon won at least 30 games over three years, Fisher finished that stretch with 822 digs. Fisher started at libero all four years of high school. One of the toughest defensive specialists on the floor, Fisher gets the nod. Fisher went on to play softball at Lake Land College after high school.
Libero: Mia Ruffolo: CHS Class of 2019: Ruffolo finished as the best defensive specialist in school history by tallying 778 career digs, including a school-record 457 in a season. Ruffolo plays at UConn and saw time on the court her freshman season.
Outside Hitter: Aryel Phinney: CHS Class of 2012: Phinney was a two-time All-Apollo selection and set a school-record for points in a season (412). Phinney was a dominant force on the outside and played at Lake Land College.
Middle Hitter: Leah Buck: MHS Class of 2014: Before Thompson came along, Buck set a school-record for blocks in a season (52). Buck was a monster in the middle and a contributing factor for those successful MHS volleyball teams. Buck played volleyball at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana.
Apologies: Allie Endsley: CHS Class of 2015: Endsley was Charleston’s best setter at one point until her records were broken. Endsley was the odd one out, but she should be recognized for her standout career. Endsley was a four-year starter as a setter, where she finished with 45 aces, 340 points, and 577 assists.
One for Fun: Brianna “Goose” Butler: MHS Class of 2015: How can you not include the player that had a big role in winning, outworked everyone for a spot, and had the best nickname of anyone in the last decade?
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