The Marion volleyball team has eight returning letter-winners this fall. Pictured here are: back row (from left) Julia Zeiner, Kristen Steinborn, Emmali Kelsey, Chassidy Carlson; front row, Whitney Gordon, Lindsay Hett, Kayley Heerey.
With a familiar trio of strong players returning for their senior season, the Marion High School volleyball team will aim to climb in the Mid-Central Activities Association standings.
In 2008 the Warriors placed 10th with a 3-8 record.
Marion went 13-21 overall in 2008 and appears poised to improve on that mark with eight returning letter-winners.
?We?re returning the whole varsity intact,? coach Jim Versch said.
Most of the players vying for varsity time recall the way the Warriors? season ended last year: Challenging, but ultimate?ly falling short against perenniel powerhouse Hutch?inson Trinity in the first round of sub-state competition last year.
The team?s top newcomers will be freshman middle/outside hitter Briana Hall and junior hitter Kathy Goering. But with seniors Julia Zeiner, Kayley Heerey and Lindsay Hett on the roster, it is clear that the Warriors? competitiveness will be a function of their top players? play.
Zeiner was named first-team all-MCAA as Marion?s primary threat at outside hitter. Heerey and Hett were honorable mentions at middle hitter and setter, respectively.
?Julia, Kayley and Lindsay are strong hitters,? Versch said. ?We just need to find the right combination of players.?
In no small part because of performances at state track meets dating back to her freshman year, Zeiner is widely recognized for her pure athleticism.
?She?s steady and consistent?a top athlete in 3 sports who gives you 100% every time she competes,? Versch said. ?She hates to los and it shows.?
Hett brings multiple skills to the table.
?Lindsay is a steady leader emerging as one of the best players and setters I have ever coached,? Versch said. ?She has really evolved this year as the team leader, something you want in a setter. Lindsay has really improved her hitting?I wouldn't be surprised if she was the No. 2 hitter behind Julia in stats.?
Heerey gives the Warriors a wespon in the front row.
?Kay has evolved into a real power blocker and hitter in the front row,? Versch said. ?Kay hits middle and is a the No. 2 in our 1-2 punch. She?s very competitive and a perfectionist.?
The trio?long recognized for their athleticism?took on leadership roles as the most experienced players in the program last year.
Sophomore Whitney Gordon (6 foot, 1 inch) figures prominently in the middle of the front line and junior Chassidy Carlson stands in at setter.
Versch said Gordon is ?The best sophomore player I have seen.
?Whit played some club ball and it really helped her overall game,? he added. ?It is fun to watch a 6-1 girl play all the way around.?
Versch expects others will contribute as well. So expectations, both outside and inside the program, have continued to rise.
The Warriors season began with a third-place finish at the MCAA tournament, hosted this year by Lyons.
The next varsity games will be played Sept. 8 at Hesston.