Morgan Lihs

(KMAland) -- There was an open day in the high school volleyball tournament trail yesterday, so I took it as a day off from saying goodbye to the seasons and the seniors.

But…I’m back with a rundown of the volleyball squads that had their seasons finish on Wednesday. When we left off, there were 21 teams that had been eliminated. On Wednesday, there were just five more. We begin with…

Clarinda (22): The brutality of the tournament trail reared its ugly head when Clarinda got swept by Shenandoah….one month after sweeping Shenandoah in the same gym. The team that I saw on Wednesday night did not look like the team I saw one month earlier. And that’s where the brutality comes in. One uneven performance is enough to end your season in a flash.

And so here we are now talking about the four seniors that played for the final time. There’s the two leading hitters Morgan Lihs and Hallee Fine, a strong complementary player in Chloe Holmstrom and another role player in Bradlie Wilmes. Lihs and Fine’s firepower will be missed very much, and I think that’s pretty obvious. They averaged a combined six kills per set, after all. It’ll be interesting to see what the offense looks like next year. One thing I do know: One of the area’s most underrated setters – Teya Stickler – will be back.

Atlantic (23): The Trojans will have to look at this season as a success. They finally ended “the streak.” You know the streak. If you don’t, you can read about it or listen to it here. They will lose three seniors from this group – Chloe Davis, Emma Templeton and McKenzie Waters. Davis and Waters played extensively throughout the year, filling many important roles, especially a leadership role. However, they should feel good about their returning core, led by juniors Alyssa Derby, Caroline Pellett and Haley Rasmussen and freshman Aubrey Guyer. The streak won’t happen again anytime soon.

Bishop Heelan Catholic (24), Sioux City North (25) & Sioux City West (26): And nearly half of the Missouri River Conference went down on Wednesday night.

For Heelan, this season was definitely one they are not used to. They won just nine times, and some of that might be because of their young-ish roster. There are three seniors – Riley Tew, Sydney Pratt and Kiana Fjeldheim – that all played pretty large roles. Tew was the team’s second hitter while Pratt was a complementary hitter, and Fjeldheim was the team’s top back row player. They will bring back a nice nucleus led by leading hitter and junior Avery Nelson and top setter and junior Ellie Gengler.

North picked up 14 wins this season after losing a solid senior class from a year ago. They had just two seniors on this year’s roster, and they were both reserve players – Jocelyn Burns and Kiara Tott, which combined on 24 sets played this season. So, everybody else is back. Junior setter Olivia O’Brien was very good, sophomore back row player Avery Beller was outstanding, top blocker and junior Courtney Johnson had a strong year and there are four underclassmen that averaged 1.30 kills per set or more. Good things are coming for the Stars.

Sioux City West had a tough four-win season, but I do feel positive that they had a six-person senior class. I just think it says something about a group of people or even a program if they are able to maintain their classes even through some tough times. Those six girls – Madison Burge, Brianna and Britney Lambing, Mindy Meyers, Payton Monroe and Kaitlyn Reynolds. Among those names are the top two hitters – Burge and Reynolds. They will be missed, but there is a lot of youth in other important spots, like setter, libero and among their top blockers.

Two nights in and 26 teams down. We added another 18 seniors to our list, which now equals 78. Seventy-eight in two nights of play. It’s just not fair. How something as awesome as the tournament trail can be so heartbreaking for many. Despite that, the tourney trail moves onward.

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