MCAA VOLLEYBALL: Coaches give HHS slight nod over Sterling for division title

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN STAFF
Even though Sterling is the defending Mid Division champion and returns two all-league players, MCAA coaches are giving a slight nod to Hillsboro to take the division title this fall.



HHS pulled four first-place votes and Sterling three among the eight coaches who participated in this year’s Free Press poll.



Coaches seemed confident who the top two teams would be and that Halstead likely will finish in the cellar. Collegiate, which returns a league-leading four players with All-MCAA status, edged Ellinwood for third place.



In the Central Division, Hesston, returning only one all-league player, was the clear choice to win the title, picking up six of eight first-place votes.



The other two first-place votes went to Haven, which returns two all-league performers.



The rest of the division, judging by the voting, will be a cat fight between Nickerson, Lyons and Smoky Valley for third, fourth and fifth.





MID DIVISION





1. Hillsboro Trojans



Coach: Collette Burton (2nd year, 19-12)



Last season: 19-12 overall, 9-3 in the MCAA.



Post-season: Regional runner-up.



Top players: Julie Hett, senior, 5-8, hitter; Jill Hein, junior, 5-9, hitter (All-MCAA honorable mention); Angela Herzet, senior, hitter; Holly Lindsay, junior, setter; Shannon Kroeker, junior, setter/hitter; Robyn Penner, junior, hitter.



Poll points: 12.





2. Sterling Black Bears



Coach: Lisa Surface (7th year).



Last season: 29-3 overall, 10-0 in the MCAA.



Top players: Kelly Cook, senior, 5-6, def. specialist/outside hitter (All-MCAA); Crystal Pitts, senior, 5-8, outside hitter (All-MCAA hon. men.); Nicolle Galyon, junior, 5-10, middle hitter; Jill Bennett, senior, 5-5, setter; Ashley Bussard, senior, 5-6, def. specialist; Jill Washmon, junior, 6-4, setter; Janie Anthony, junior, 5-9, middle hitter.



Poll points: 16.





3. Wichita Collegiate Spartans



Coach: Kari Olson (3nd year).



Last season: 17-11 overall, 2-4 in the MCAA.



Top players: Jennifer Caro, senior, 5-6, setter/hitter (All-MCAA); Hannah Houlik, senior, 5-10, setter/hitter (All-MCAA hon. men.); Jill Boxberger, senior, 5-11, hitter (All-MCAA); Megan Marshall, senior, 5-3, hitter; (All-MCAA hon. men.); Kate Pilgren, senior, 5-3, hitter; Kelly Marhaver, sophomore, 5-10, hitter.



Poll points: 26.





4. Ellinwood Eagles



Coach: Paul Thomas (2nd year, 8-17).



Last season: 8-17 overall, 3-5 in the MCAA.



Top players: Kendra Wise, senior, 5-7, outside hitter; Kathy Rush, senior, 5-8, middle hitter (All-MCAA, All-Area); Natalie Peter, senior, 5-8, setter; Cassie Moos, junior, 5-4, outside player; Jodi Scheufler, senior, 5-9, outside hitter; Keri Wise, sophomore, 6-0, middle/outside hitter (All-Area hon. men.); Megan Thomas, sophomore, 5-7m outside/middle hitter (All-Area hon. men.).



Poll points: 30.





5. Halstead Dragons



Coach: Marlys Gwaltney (3rd year).



Last season: 7-17 overall, 4-8 in the MCAA.



Top players: Lindsey Miles, sophomore, 5-10, (All-MCAA hon. men.); Lea Watkins, senior, 5-4, setter; Bridget Cox, senior, 5-6, setter; Diana Hoss, senior, 5-6, middle/outside hitter; Shawna Seier, senior, 5-5, defensive specialist/outside hitter; Randi Homewood, senior, 5-6, defensive specialist/outside hitter; Brooke Canada, senior, 5-6, defensive specialist/outside hitter (All-MCAA hon. men.); Emily Millspaugh, 5-6, defensive specialist/setter/outside hitter.



Poll points: 36.





CENTRAL DIVISION





1. Hesston Swathers



Coach: Heather Ferralez (2nd year, 26-9).



Last season: 26-9 overall, 11-3 in the MCAA.



Post season: Sub-state champs.



Top players: Kara Bartell, senior, 5-5, setter (All-MCAA); Ashley Wray, junior, 5-11, middle hitter; Anne Gunden, junior, 5-7, setter; Mary Washburn, senior, 5-7, outside hitter; Jessica Sweigart, senior, 5-6, defensive specialist; Jenny Washburn, junior, 5-10, middle hitter.



Poll points: 10.





2. Haven Wildcats



Coach: Vickie Koontz (2nd year).



Last season: 21-9 overall, second place Central Division.



Top players: Melissa Frees, senior, outside hitter (All-MCAA); Laura Frees, senior, hitter (All-MCAA); Shannon Smith, senior, setter; Haylie Loehr, senior, hitter; Ashley Dirks, senior, defensive specialist; Joni Stewart, senior, middle hitter.



Poll points: 19.





3. Nickerson Wildcats



Coach: Lynn Vick (2nd year, 17-11).



Last season: 17-11 overall, 7-1 in the MCAA.



Top players: Ashley Emerson, senior, 5-8, outside hitter (All-MCAA hon. men.); Tara Sykes, senior, 5-7, setter; Becky Crawmer, junior, 5-10, middle blocker; Rochelle Patton, junior, 5-6, outside hitter/setter.



Poll points: 26.





4. Lyons Lions



Coach: Mija Stockman (2nd year).



Last season: No report.



Top players: No report.



Poll points: 30.





5. Smoky Valley



Coach: Mijkin Haxton (4th year).



Last season: 5-16 overall.



Top players: Malinda Olson, senior, 5-9, hitter; Chelsi Emery, senior, 5-10, hitter; Jenna Porter, junior, 5-4, setter (All-MCAA hon. men.); Ashley Blomberg, senior, 5-8, hitter; Sarah Tjaden, senior, 5-10, hitter; Tara Barnett, senior, 5-5, back row.



Poll points: 32.

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