ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ANDREW OTTOSON
Second-year coach Crysta Guhr has six seniors and letter-winners returning from a 2005 team that went 23-14 and made it to state. Pictured are: Rinda Duerksen (kneeling); second row (from left) Jennifer Raymond, Katie Flaming; third row, Courtney Berkholz, Kory Hiebert and Kylee Nikkel.
This fall, the Goessel Bluebirds volleyball team will return three of last year’s starters, and second-year head coach Crysta Guhr’s expectations are high.
“This team looks to build on the success they achieved last year and challenge for a spot in the top of the (Heart of America) League,” Guhr said.
Veteran Kory Hiebert followed her 2004 second-team All-HOA selection with a first-team selection in 2005.
Hiebert, a 6-feet-1 hitter, also won regional and state honors.
Hiebert will bring “a lot of leadership,” Guhr said. “She’s going to play all the way around this year.”
Courtney Berkholz earned second team All-HOA honors last year.
Guhr said Berkholz “has the full set of skills-blocking, hitting, defense and passing.”
In addition to seniors Hiebert and Berkholz, the Bluebirds return sophomore Rinda Duerksen and junior Katie Flaming.
“Duerksen only played front row last year, so she’s going to have to pick up some back-row duties and take on more of a leadership role as well,” Guhr said.
Aspen Frey and Lisa Gartner are two among the nine incoming players in a strong freshman class for the Bluebirds.
Guhr said Frey “brings a lot of athleticism to the table and she will probably play all the way around.”
The team also gained strength during the off season following 2005’s 23-14 finish.
“Flaming has improved a lot,” said Guhr, “and Duerksen is really coming along.”
The team’s expectations will be high as Guhr, working with second-year assistant coach Tiffany Dehaven, sets out to guide her girls back to the state tournament this year.
Goessel went 7-4 in league play last season.
“We can be top three in the league,” Guhr said.
Little River and perennial powerhouse Moundridge will challenge the Bluebirds this fall in the HOA.
The Bluebirds were schedule to open their season Tuesday, Aug. 29, at Lyons. Nest Tuesday, Sept. 5, the team will compete at Remington. Matches will begin at 4 p.m.