Most outstanding: Tigers' Nehrt recognized by SAC

Watching a Crothersville High School volleyball match this fall, you couldn’t help but take notice of senior Chandler Nehrt’s hitting ability.

But did you also notice her back-row defense? Or her jump-serving? She didn’t take any plays off. She was that vital to the Tigers.

The Southern Athletic Conference coaches apparently saw all of those things, because they selected Nehrt as one of the 2012 most outstanding players. She tied with junior middle hitter Caroline Ricks of New Washington for the honor.

“Chandler never missed a play of any game all the years I’ve coached her,” Tigers coach Aaron Knieriem said. “If you want to win, she doesn’t get to sit down, and honestly, she likes it that way. She’s a great server. She’s got a tremendous jump-serve. She’s an excellent defensive player. She’s a wonderful primary passer. She’s a great hitter, good blocker. So many things Chandler Nehrt does makes her an outstanding player.”

The SAC coaches nominate their players for the honor. But when the coaches meet at the end of the season, they can’t vote for their own player.

“I can’t say I was really expecting it because there were a lot of other big hitters in the conference this year,” Nehrt said. “Especially with Lanesville winning the conference, I kind of expected one of their players to get it.”

But she will totally accept the honor.

“I was so excited, because it was my senior year and I wasn’t expecting it,” she said. “It was a good way to go out and end the season.”

Lanesville went 5-0 in the SAC, followed by Crothersville 4-1, New Washington 3-2, Borden 2-3, Henryville 1-4 and South Central 0-5. Crothersville lost to Lanesville in five sets but defeated New Washington and Henryville in five and the other teams in three. The Tigers were 17-8 overall.

“The conference was really competitive,” Nehrt said. “I actually didn’t expect it to be like it was because a lot of the biggest players from last season graduated. New Washington had Caroline Ricks, and she’s a great hitter, and what made their team so good ultimately was their hitting. Lanesville was good all-around. They kind of came out of nowhere, but they were good, and you can’t take anything from them.”

Knieriem said Nehrt held her own in every match, especially in SAC contests.

“Chandler was huge in every game for us,” he said. “She always plays with passion for the game, but in the conference games, you could tell not only was she playing with passion, but she was playing with a purpose, too. She was on a mission, and she wanted to do well in the conference.”

This season, Nehrt had a team-high 429 kills, and she tallied more than 150 digs and nearly 70 aces.

“A lot of people think that hitting is the glory position,” Nehrt said. “Being in the glory position is nice, but there’s a lot of pressure on that position because when you’ve got to score, you’ve got to go to the hitter that’s going to score. I handle pressure pretty well, but I like knowing that my teammates can depend on me when they need to, and that’s kind of how a hitter is.”

Defense, she said, “is all mental. The momentum that comes from getting a big dig is almost as good as getting a big kill. It’s just really exciting for everyone that plays.”

While her high school volleyball career has come to an end, Nehrt hopes this isn’t the end. She wants to continue playing in college, and she’s trying to find the right fit.

“At the beginning of this year, I kind of decided that it was too much and that I couldn’t do it,” she said. “But then after this season ended, I just said, ‘It’s not over. I don’t want to be done playing.’”

Knieriem said it is hard to see Nehrt leave, but he knows she has left her mark and she will be successful at the next level.

“She’s a good student, she’s a good athlete, and she’s also a tremendous person. People that know her love her,” Knieriem said. “I think that whenever she’s on a team, she’s not cocky, but she’s confident and her confidence is contagious. A lot of that translates to success for our team. She’s a sparkplug, and she makes players around her better.”

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