The Marion High School volleyball team clobbered Southeast of Saline (25-3, 25-13) in the first round of Saturday?s substate tournament at Sedgwick and lost to eventual champion Hillsboro (19-25, 19-25). Hillsboro and 3A powerhouse Wichita Collegiate inflicted eight of Marion?s 11 losses this season.
The Warriors finished with 25 wins.
Apart from the times they fell to Hillsboro or Collegiate, the Warriors took losses to two substate runners-up (Hoisington and Rock Creek) and just once lost on what Versch called ?just a bad night? against Hesston.
The team?s night-in, night-out consistency may be partly attributable to the fact Marion?s much-described group of three?Kayley Heerey, Lindsay Hett and Julia Zeiner?played in every one of the team?s 81 games this season. Their leadership and athleticism will be gone but not forgotten when practice starts next year; Versch hopes their mark on the program is indelible.
?This senior bunch is a great group of athletes and have improved each day, and worked to improve each day,? he said.
Heerey averaged 2.2 kills per game, along with nearly 1.8 digs and 0.5 blocks. Hett averaged 1.4 kills, 4.7 assists, 4.5 serves and 0.6 aces per game. Zeiner averaged 3.8 kills with an attack rating of 34.1 percent.
All vastly improved over the last four years, but Versch also noted the sharpness of the turnaround the program as a whole has made.
?These seniors went from 1-27 their fresman year to 25-11 their senior year,? he said. ?I wish I would have started back a year earlier and had these girls as freshman.?
Versch said he ?saw improvement in each player, not only in the seniors but in the underclassmen overall.?
He noted that Chassidy Carlson has become a competitive setter and right side hitter, while Whitney Gordon became a force to be reckoned with along the Warriors front line.
?She went from 50 kills overall last year to second place (on the team) with 226,? he said. ?With some help from some of this year’s successful (13-8) JV squad, we should continue to do well.?
Against SES on Saturday, Zeiner posted seven kills, five aces and a solo block; Hett also served five aces. Heerey had six kills, and Marion posted a .528 team attack percentage.
Coach Jim Versch called it ?Probably the best example of Marion power volleyball displayed all season.?
?We were firing on all cylinders and everyone was playing well?we were extremely aggressive,? he said.
The Warriors? serves and attacks scored fewer points against Hillsboro, but Versch gave the opponent some credit.
?Dakota Kaufman played extremely well in this match, and no one could stop her, I think in the state,? he said.
He also said that losing to the rival stung more than other losses?and not just because of the timing.
?Losing is always deflating; losing to Hillsboro maybe a bit more, because we had beaten them once earlier,? he said. ?We knew we could compete with them. It is always disappointing when you know you can beat a team but can’t complete the task.?
Zeiner had eight kills, Hett and Heerey had five apiece and Whitney Gordon had four.
?Julia and Lindsay really stepped up and really played some of their best volleyball of the year,? Versch said. ?Some kids will play it safe, but Lindsay really picked up her game and really competed in the Hillsboro match. She did not want the season to end.?