These runners comprise the Marion cross-country team this season: (from left) Bethany Grimmett, Colton Boudreaux, Colin Williams, Nathan Shields, Elisa Barba.

These seniors will anchor the Marion volleyball team this season: (front row, from left) Sam Richmond, Courtney Herzet, Bailey Baker; (back row) Kourtney Hansen, Jessi Lewman, Alli Molleker.
These seniors will anchor the Marion volleyball team this season: (front row, from left) Sam Richmond, Courtney Herzet, Bailey Baker; (back row) Kourtney Hansen, Jessi Lewman, Alli Molleker.
Under the direction of third-year coach Brea Campbell, the Marion volleyball team will look to match the success the team has built in past seasons.

In her two years, Campbell has guided the Warriors to back-to-back 9-0 Heart of America league regular season titles. The Warriors have won the league tournament two years in a row and have compiled a 61-15 record doing so.

Campbell’s 2015 team became the first Warrior squad to reach and surpass the 30-win mark. Last year, the Warriors lost to top seeded Silver Lake in the sub-state semifinals to finish at 28-11. Silver Lake was ranked first in Class 3A.

Marion lost six seniors from last year’s team, including four starters. But, four players return with starting experience to bolster Marion’s 25-person roster.

Senior Kourtney Hansen returns as a first-team HOA selection. The 5-foot, 7-inch setter and outside hitter recorded 199 kills, 301 assists and a team-best 74 service aces a year ago.

“(Kourtney’s) one of those players that can do anything,” Campbell said. “She just has that athleticism about her. You tell her to change one thing and she can do it right away.”

Hansen’s abilities will be seen in both hitting and setting roles.

“Obviously, all hitters want to hit the ball hard, but she wants to hit it harder than everyone,” Campbell said. “She can get to a lot of balls, and she has the timing down to where she can be a quick-hit hitter, which is really awesome and not very common for this age group.

“She has great hands, so her setting is already awesome, and that’s exactly what we need. We need setters that can put the ball in the air so we can get to it.”

Jessi Lewman (5-10) will fill the void in the middle created by the departure of Marissa Jacobson, Marion’s leading attacker a year ago.

“(Marissa) is going to be a really hard one to lose, just because she was one of our go-to’s,” Campbell said. “She was our offensive player of the year last year, but Jessi Lewman was the other middle last year. She’ll be our starting middle this year. She’s a great blocker, and that will help us just like Marissa’s attacking did.”

Lewman earned honorable-mention all-league honors last year with 99 kills and 57 solo blocks.

“(Jessi) has good hands and is able to push the ball down,” Campbell said. “That’s just a natural motion for her, and a lot of blockers don’t have that. Her hitting has gotten a lot better than it was last year, too, so I’ll be excited to see what she can do at the net as well.”

Senior Bailey Baker (5-8) returns as an outside hitter and right side hitter. She recorded 249 digs, 43 kills, 37 blocks and 23 service aces last year.

“(Bailey’s) a go-to because she is consistent,” Campbell said. “Even this year, she’s hitting the ball so much harder than she did last year. She does a great job in the back row, too, which we need.”

Senior Sam Richmond (5-4) returns as a starter to anchor the back row. Last year she contributed 209 assists and 134 digs.

“(Sam) didn’t ever play setter, but then we stuck her at setter last year,” Campbell said. “She did a fabulous job for us.”

Rich­mond will be joined in the back row by senior returning letter-winner Courtney Herzet.

“(Courtney) and Sam Richmond are going to be our back-row players this year,” Campbell said. “(Taelyn’s) going to be tough to replace, but I think those girls can do it.”

Pagel tallied 353 digs (4.8 per set) and a team-high 509 serve receptions a year ago.

Marion also will need to account for the loss of Felvus, who led the team with 393 digs.

“(Shelby) was a great defensive player for us last year,” Campbell said. “We’re losing those people, but I think we have people that can step in and contribute to just as a successful season.”

Campbell also will rely on a handful of newcomers.

Senior Alli Molleker will be a middle hitter for the Warriors this season.

“(Alli) played JV last year,” Campbell said. “She didn’t get any varsity time. She dealt with being sick a lot, too, so she missed quite a few practices. She has a shoulder issue that we’re looking out for, but she’s a great blocker as well, and she brings the energy.”

Junior Tori Shults brings height to the outside hitter position.

“We expect big things out of (Tori) out of the outside,” Campbell said. “She’s very long, and if she can learn to control that, she’s going to be very good for us.”

Junior Corrina Crabb will contribute as a right side hitter.

“(Corrina’s) basically going to be filling in Falon Crawford’s spot from last year, as of what we need right now,” Campbell said. “I think she’s going to do the same job. Falon wasn’t the hardest hitter, but she was very consistent, and that’s what Corrina’s going to be.”

Sophomore Chloe Burk­holder is another newcomer.

“We still don’t know how everything is going to fit, but she is a setter,” Campbell said. “She played JV last year, and she might come in very handy for us this year, because it’s just adding another variable to the mix.”

Outlook

Campbell said one strength of this year’s team is chemistry, as demonstrated by the seniors.

“Most of them have played at the same level for every single sport, so they have this chemistry that’s just great,” she said.

“You really want that from them as senior leaders. And they’re really embracing the people that are coming up.”

This year, the Warriors will seek to continue to build on the team’s past successes.

“They know exactly what they want to do,” Campbell said. “I have them fill out goal sheets, and a lot of the goals were, ‘Hey, let’s make it to state this year. Let’s have that winning season. Let’s win league. Let’s do all those things.’ So I think a lot of that success really just comes from already experiencing it and wanting it again.”

The Warriors opened competition at Peabody-Burns Saturday. Marion will travel to Sedgwick Sept. 5. The Warriors’ home-opener will be the Spikefest tournament Sept. 16.