ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
On-court leadership shouldn’t be a problem for Marion’s first-year head coach Kara Chisholm.
The Warriors boast eight seniors on the roster, many who played key roles in the 15-13 record in 2003 and a second-place finish in the Cottonwood Valley League.
“This group of seniors is great,” Chisholm said. “They really display good leadership ability.”
Chisholm takes over at Marion after learning the ropes as an assistant coach at Hillsboro for four years.
“I learned a lot from my own high school coach, too,” she said. “As far as making the decisions (as head coach), I had my own team as an assistant, so I’m fortunate I’ve already had to make a lot of on-court decisions.
“But knowing I’m now responsible for the varsity as well as the JV and freshman teams is a lot different,” she added. “That’s a little nerve racking.”
The transition has been made easier by the retention of assistant coach Charlotte Waner.
“She’s been wonderful and a lot of fun,” Chisholm said.
Heading the list of returning senior is Whitney Wear (5-feet-4), who was named second team All-CVL last year.
“I’m expecting some really good things from Whitney,” Chisholm said. “She proved last season that she can play excellent ball.”
Other returning seniors are Jill Hannaford (5-5), Leann Thomas (5-7), Sarah Williams (5-5), Amber Richmond (5-9), Katie Zogelman (5-6), Chelsi Carlson (5-7) and Molly Rhodes 5-8).
Allison Maddox will miss the season due to a knee injury.
Chisholm said two juniors, Toni Gordon (6-0) and Megan Hudson (5-3), will also contribute this year.
“Megan will be a good outside hitter,” she said. “She’s not real tall, but the girl can jump.”
Chisholm knows joining the Mid Central Activities Association will challenge the Warrior program.
“Right now, our girls are just looking to establish themselves in the new league,” Chisholm said. “It will be a definite change for us because the CVL wasn’t quite as strong or as tough.
“We hope to build off this year and establish Marion as a strong contender in the MCAA each year,” she added. “Hoisington is coming in with us and they’ve always had outstanding programs over there, so hopefully the target will be on them and not so much on us.”
A total of 33 girls are out for volleyball, including 15 freshmen.
“It’s a little bit difficult to give everyone as much time as we’d like, but we do a good job of playing quads,” Chisholm said. “It would be nice if we had a freshman schedule.”
Chisholm said her coaching time at Hillsboro gave her little familiarity with the Marion team she inherited.
“Playing against them in the past, you just don’t know what the girls on the other teams are really like,” she said. “They’ve surprised me a lot and they’ve really done a great job of doing what we’ve asked-they’ve really been willing to step up.
“I think they’re excited to have me as their coach,” she added. “The old Hillsboro/Marion rivalry isn’t nearly as intense as it used to be.”
Chisholm said having eight seniors makes for great chemistry.
“They really play well together-most of these seniors have been together all four years and they really know each other.”
Teams to beat in the MCAA, according to Chisholm, will be Hoisington, Lyons and Hesston.
“I hope we can establish ourselves in the new league,” Chisholm said. “We need to show people that we belong.
“We need to get off to a good start ourselves,” she said. “I think in order for us to compete at a high level, we have to make a conscious effort to dig every ball.
“As long as we get one pass we’ll be all right, but our passing has to be there,” she added. “We still need to work on serve receive but we’re making progress.
“We’ve been working hard and putting in the time that it takes in order for us to get better.”