The American Volleyball Coaches Association released its Under Armour All-America Volleyball watch list on Monday, and a trio of familiar faces made the cut after sparkling seasons in the fall of 2019.
Bristol Eastern’s Zoe Lowe, Ryley Plourde and Leah Chipman are all on the list of potential players that will be recognized as some of the top talents in the country, should the girls volleyball season take place. Regardless, the three are all considered to be among the best in America.
Lowe and Chipman were members of the All-Press team last year after leading the Lancers to a perfect regular season and the No. 1 overall ranking in the final state coaches poll of the regular season.
Lowe, a 5-foot-10 outside hitter, was flat-out dominant in her junior campaign, which was also her second time on the All-Press team. Lowe was named first team All-State in 2019 after being named to the second team as a sophomore, and also earned her third straight all-conference selection. Lowe finished 2019 with a team-high 378 kills, as well as 84 service aces and 78 digs, representing one of the top hitters in the state.
“That’s Zoe,” Eastern head coach Stephanie Reay said of Lowe’s 2019 season. “She’s really a good player with a tremendous amount of potential.”
Plourde, a 5-foot-11 middle hitter, was just as valuable to the Lancers in her second season with the varsity squad, earning all-conference honors while always seeming to step up in big spots, including a memorable matchup with RHAM during the regular season, while the Sachems were one of the top teams in the state and with an unbeaten record. Eastern won the match in a five-set thriller, and Plourde came up with two kills and two blocks in the decisive fifth set, which the Lancers won 15-10.
“The most important thing Ryley brings to our team at this point…is her energy, her positive attitude, her desire to constantly improve herself and her level of play, as well as her ability to push and improve her teammates,” Reay said.
Plourde’s clutch play was also apparent last year when Eastern was caught in a five-set dogfight with rival Bristol Central, and Plourde recorded a match-winning kill to win the decisive fifth set 15-13 in what was one of the most memorable matchups between the two city rivals.
Chipman, a senior setter, was huge for the Lancers in that thrilling win over the Rams, recording 52 assists on her way to finishing with one of the highest assist totals in the state. After that 52-assist masterpiece against Central, Chipman was second in all of Connecticut in total assists, and was crucial to Eastern’s perfect regular season.
Chipman, a first-year varsity contributor last season, had only first taken up volleyball as a freshman, but has caught on so quickly that she hopes to play at the collegiate level. Being included among the best high school players in the nation is a good start.
“She stepped in as our main setter and [had] a fantastic season,” Reay said of Chipman.
Eastern’s three entries on the list were the most for any Connecticut school. The only other entries to come from in state were Avery Theriault of Conard, Helen Megson of Lyman Memorial and Kaylin Hadley of RHAM.