Blue Streaks eye consistency


Madison’s volleyball team has three returning starters back from the squad that won 14 games last fall. If the Blue Streaks can improve on defense and play consistently on a nightly basis they’ll be in the mix for a Western Reserve Conference title and more.

“We have the potential to be a competitive team in the WRC,” said second-year head coach Leslie Smith. “We have a strong offensive team but need to be more consistent defensively. We need to continue to find that team cohesiveness and unity in order to be successful this season.”

The Blue Streaks have three seniors projected in their starting lineup. They’ll need that experience and maturity to lead the way for the underclassmen on the court.

Senior setter Dawn Brassow, an honorable mention All-WRC performer last fall, returns after recording 355 digs.

“Dawn is an integral part of our offense this season,” Smith said. “She was a libero last season for us, but we needed her to take on the setting role and she has adjusted very well to the position. Dawn plays with heart and gives 110-percent effort no matter what is asked of her.”

Senior Taylor Stevens moved into the libero role this season.

“Last season, she played some outside hitter and right side, but has really stepped up her game defensively,” Smith said. “I have confidence that she will lead this team with her passing and serving abilities.”

Senior Brannigan Cramb is back in the middle. She recorded 101 kills last fall.

“I expect Brannigan to have a breakout season for us,” Smith said. “As a senior, she has gained the confidence in herself to lead this team both offensively and defensively with her blocking. I am looking forward to see what Brannigan will give us this season.’

Junior outside hitter Lauren Smith, sophomore middle/outside hitter Taylor Menough and freshman Carly Conforte round out the projected starting lineup.

Smith recorded 261 kills and earned All-WRC and all-district honors.

“Lauren is a naturally talented hitter,” Smith said. “Last season, we relied on her to put the ball away when needed. Combined with her court awareness and ability to read the defense, we expect Lauren to have another great season for the Blue Streaks.”

Menough and Conforte provide the Blue Streaks with balance on the attack.

“Taylor is a very strong asset to the team this season in that she can hit outside and provide a strong block and middle attack that we need, as well. She is a very well rounded player and is getting stronger every day,” Smith said. “I expect Carly to be a strong right side hitter for us. She works hard at being a consistent attacker and has a solid jump serve for such a young player.”

Sophomore Halle Blackford and freshmen Delaney McGrain and Ellie Smith also are expected to contribute for Madison this season.

“Delaney is an extremely versatile player. I expect her to get a lot of time in as a defensive specialist, but she is a solid hitter, as well. I love that Delaney will do whatever is asked of her without question,” Smith said. “Ellie has the potential to be a strong outside hitter for us this season. As a freshman, she is getting more consistent at every practice. Halle is a hard worker that pushes herself to get better each day.”

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The creator and publisher of, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for, a member of the network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. was created in 2004 and was a member of the network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.