GHS coming off perfect season

Fueling the defending state champion Goessel Bluebird volleyball team this fall are returning letter-winners and seniors (from left) Leah Booton, Olivia Duerksen, Brittney Hiebert and Eden Hiebert.
Fueling the defending state champion Goessel Bluebird volleyball team this fall are returning letter-winners and seniors (from left) Leah Booton, Olivia Duerksen, Brittney Hiebert and Eden Hiebert.
The Goessel volleyball team heads into 2016 after completing a magical season: they never lost.

Goessel secured its sixth consecutive Wheat State League title with a 7-0 record—the Bluebirds are undefeated in WSL play since the league’s inception in 2010.

Goessel capped its perfect, 44-0 season with a 2-1 victory over Centralia in the Class 1A, Division I state championship game. After losing Set 1, 25-17—the only set Goessel lost all year—the Bluebirds battled back to win the next two sets.

Goessel’s 2015 state title snapped Centralia’s two-year championship win streak. A year before, Goessel’s bid for a perfect season fell one match short in the championship when Centralia won the state title.

Crysta Guhr returns for her 12th season as head coach as the Bluebirds seek to make their fourth-consecutive trip to the state tournament. They will do so with­out the aid of some influential players.

Goessel will play without first team, all-state honorees Page Hiebert and Alyssa Booton, as well as first-team all-league selections Alicen Meysing and Aleena Cook. Meysing received second-team all-state accolades.

Last fall, Hiebert, who was named Class 1A, Divi­sion I Player of the Year by the Kansas Volleyball Association, signed a letter of intent to play volleyball at Hutchinson Community College. Booton and Meysing, meanwhile, signed letters of intent to play volleyball at Hesston College.

However, despite the losses, the well is not dry. Goessel will look to four returning letter-winners to pave the way.

Olivia Duerksen returns as a first-team Wheat State League middle hitter and Goessel’s only senior.

Joining her are juniors Eden Hiebert (outside hitter), Brittney Hiebert (middle hitter) and Leah Booton (outside hitter).

Eden Hiebert was a first-team All-State honoree a year ago and a member of the all-league first team. Brittney Hiebert also received first-team all-league recognition, while Booton was an honorable mention selection.

Sophomore setter Savanna Wuest is a newcomer who may be asked to contribute.

“The 2016 seniors have a career record (of) 121-12 and want to push the win column close to 40 again this season,” Guhr said. “This year’s team will be focused to earn another Wheat State League championship and (will) look forward to non-league and tournament play to prepare them for another post-season run.”

Canton-Galva and Her­ing­ton have joined the Wheat State League this year, and Guhr said she is excited about the additions.

“I don’t yet know how it will effect competition, but we look at each school we play as an opportunity to improve, and I think both of these schools will help us do that,” she said.

The team’s focus this year will be to become more complete volleyball players.

“We have smaller numbers this year as a team, so many of our players are playing all the way around,” Guhr said. “In previous seasons, we have been much more position specific. I think the girls are embracing the challenge of becoming more complete, all-around players, and doing so will only make them better.”

Goessel enters the season as the top-ranked team in Class 1A, Division I in the Kansas Volleyball Associa­tion preseason rankings.

Goals for the season revolve around constant improvement, with returning players given the opportunity to step up and lead.

“After a large number of senior leaders graduated last year, our returners are excited for their own chances to lead and succeed.”  

Goessel was scheduled to begin its season Tuesday at Hering­ton. The Bluebirds’ home-opener is Sept. 6 against Peabody-Burns at 6 p.m.