(KMAland) -- Talk about a way to open the tournament trail.
Fremont-Mills (1) gave East Mills all that they wanted on Tuesday night in an unpredictable, wild and fun five-set battle. Today, we begin our look at the teams we lost in tournament trail action. This will be a daily deal for us as we move throughout the postseason. We start with the Knights, but I’m here to tell you this was almost an entirely different story.
Coach Tracy Malcom’s team swung from their hips, they were aggressive and they played with no fear of failure. There wasn’t a lot of tipping from this group, and the power displayed by seniors Lydia Alley, Courtney Goodman and Rachel Wietzki and junior Kenna Howard had East Mills on the ropes.
F-M will definitely miss those seniors, as well as back row standouts Elizabeth Bartles, Ellie Crom and Kendall Reed and reserve Athene Wendland. I know the season probably didn’t go the way that they thought it would, but there was a nearly four-set period last night in Malvern where they looked like world beaters. They should bottle that up and remember it for years and years to come.
As for the future, I think it’s still pretty good. Sophomore Kaelynn Driskell is one of the best young setters in the area, and she still has two years remaining. One of her top hitters, Howard, will return for her senior season, and freshman Teagan Ewalt has a bright, bright future. Ewalt was inserted late in the season, and she delivered in a number of ways. Look for several others in that freshman class to make major contributions next year.
On with the rest of our list…
Essex (2): A heavily improved team throughout the year, the Trojanettes picked up four of their five wins during a four-day span from October 9th and October 12th. And there is just one senior leaving the fold in Camryn Chambers, who did some setting and was a key defender. With that said, they’ll bring back their top setter (Helen Nicholas), all of their top hitters (led by Elise Dailey) and many of their top defenders (Nicholas also led in digs).
Griswold (3): Three seniors leave for the Tigers, led by top hitter Loryn Peterson, leading middle Jocelyn Amos and reserve Kacey Danker. With Peterson and Amos gone, that leaves things in the hands of Mikala Pelzer and Kalainee Teaney in terms of termination. Setters Haylee Pennock and Lydia Greiman and strong back row player Anna Kelley will also come back to lead what looks to be a solid nucleus.
Audubon (4): Five regulars are graduating, led by standout libero Rylie Hartl, who averaged another 4.79 digs per set this season. Their top two setters in Leah Subbert and Mallory Riebhoff also graduate along with No. 2 hitter Melissa Deist and one of their top blockers in Amy Burns. Sophomore Jaci Christensen and juniors Elizabeth Zaiger, Johanna Sauers and Madison Vorm will also bring back plenty of experience.
Missouri Valley (5): The top two hitters for this year’s Big Reds team – Megan Winchester and Patricia Bostwick – are both seniors. Another senior – Brianna Ladd – also had a solid year of hitting, and Payton Hilts and Emma Jimmerson both averaged over one dig per set. That’s a strong senior group, but juniors Lauren Austin and Carlie Winchester and freshmen Maya Contreraz (top setter), Ella Myler, Ava Hilts, Chloe Larsen and Addi Huegli all received plenty of time.
Tri-Center (6): This was a surprise. The Trojans were upset by AHSTW last night, but they will return with their entire roster intact. The late season injury to Presley Pogge loomed large, but they were able to fill the gaps and freshman Preslie Arbaugh added another piece that will return with major rotation experience. This will be a team full of well-known stars next year: Tatum Carlson, Miranda Ring, Marissa Ring, Meredith Maassen, Laura Brockhoff, Emile Sorensen and on and on. Watch for a preseason state ranking next season.
Central Decatur (7): Alaina Applegate stepped into a big role this season with the loss of a strong 2019 senior class. Applegate was the team’s top hitter and top blocker this year and will be missed next season. In addition, setter Maizee Lindsey and No. 2 and 3 hitters Shira Alley and Morgan Nordyke will move on.
Martensdale-St. Marys (8): The Blue Devils say goodbye to five seniors, including No. 2 hitter and leading passer Morgan Dunn and No. 2 setter Kaley Verwers. Kaitlin Christensen also averaged over one dig per set this year while Alexandra Dickinson and Elizabeth Devore also contributed. Next year’s team should be led by this year’s sophomores in leading hitter Anna Parrott and primary setter Jackie Kleve.
Ar-We-Va (9): The Rockets had just two seniors on this year’s squad that was competitive throughout the year despite needing to replace superstar Emilee Danner. Leslie Luft was the leader in the class, averaging a team-best 4.31 digs per set. Another senior MaKayla Hinners provided leadership and played a reserve role. So, with all that is coming back – setter Sara Schurke and top hitters Jadeyn Smith, Bridget Cameron and Hannah Kraus among them – the Rockets are on the way back up.
Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton (10): Six seniors dotted this year’s Spartans roster, which doubled their win total from last year. Erin Irlmeier, Erin Schultes and Lexi Madsen were every-match contributors while Caitlin Meyers, Lauren Hansen and Amy Hartvigsen also filled roles. Top hitter and junior Makaela Riley, fellow junior Tatum Grubbs, sophomore Mollie Rasmussen and freshmen Makenzie Riley and Shay Burmeister are among those that lead the next wave.
Paton-Churdan (11): Only two seniors will move on for Paton-Churdan. Regular rotation player and back row stalwart Kalyssa Baker and reserve Kyla Beyers are the lone two seniors. They will bring back a senior class full of firepower, led by junior Danielle Hoyle, who averaged over three kills per set and had 40 total blocks. Setter Chloe Berns and No. 2 and 3 hitters Tessa Steimel and Carmyn Paup are also coming back for what could be a strong team in 2020.
Heartland Christian (12): The Frontier Nebraska Conference team will actually play another match on Thursday night, but their season in Iowa has come to an end. And the loss of their two seniors will be tough to replace. Leading hitter Shelana Cochran and setter Bella Dingus are both graduating. Juniors Savannah Horan, Corey Butterbaugh and Grace Heffernan all stepped up and hit well this season. That should serve them in a positive manner next year.
Ankeny Christian Academy (13): This is one of NINE Bluegrass Conference teams to be eliminated last night. They lost a lot from last year’s team, but they will only lose reserve Lexus Klinge from this year’s squad. Freshmen Kassidy Quick, Kamryn Kuhles, Madison Beck and Kate Jacobs should be key players for years to come.
Diagonal (14): A freshman breakout for Taylor Lumbard and Anna Newton was more than welcome for a Diagonal program that had a solid senior class last year. This year’s seniors – Kayla Bentley and Erin Sobotka – will also be missed. Sobotka was the team’s setter for a number of years, and Bentley played all the way around.
Melcher-Dallas (15): The Saints will lose just two seniors from this year’s team, led by back row standout Lilly Bennett. Kaylee Maeschen is the other senior that played this season, although it was just in one set. A very good junior class – Kynser Reed, Grace Overgaard, Haley Godfrey, Kacey and Riley Enfield and Elizabeth Milburn – should help M-D continue their ascent after a five-win improvement this season.
Moravia (16): Four seniors, including three that played prominently throughout the year, will move on for the Mohawks. Leading hitter Bailee Batterson and regulars Isabel Glick and Jazmine Lewis will graduate, as will reserve Allison Brown. They will also return a nice junior class, led by Graice Hoffman, Anaya Keith and Isabel Haines.
Mormon Trail (17): Mormon Trail had just one senior on this year’s roster, and Kaylee Rains played in just seven sets. They will return with their entire rotation intact, led by junior hitters Skylar Watsabaugh and Charlee Wilson and primary setter (and another junior) Chelsea Johnson. Freshman Miah Roberts also provided a big breakout.
Moulton-Udell (18): Secondary setter Brason Bulechek and top hitter Chelsey Boettcher will graduate from a two-win Moulton-Udell squad. Juniors Zoe Lucas and Karsyn Sebolt should be the leading players for 2020.
Murray (19): Coach Jerry Shields plays A LOT of players. There are 10 girls that played in at least 52 sets this season. Three of them were seniors – setter Rylee Newton and Michelle McBurney and Bailey Frederick. Their top three hitters – Kiznee Eggers, Twila Barber and Emma Decker – are all juniors, and Teryn Shields and Jayda Chew lead a nice freshman class.
Orient-Macksburg (20): There are just two seniors here, but they are very, very important players. Kaela Eslinger has crafted out a terrific multi-sport career, and that includes volleyball where she averaged 2.85 kills and 4.49 digs per set. Her coach Gary Thompson thinks she has a collegiate future in the back row. Hailey Johnson is the other senior, and she was only the team’s engine (or setter). Caitlyn Gist leads next year’s group, as the junior had a breakout year with 2.36 kills per set.
Twin Cedars (21): The last of the Bluegrass Nine and the last of our 21 eliminated schools is Twin Cedars. There’s just one senior to mention here with the graduation of secondary hitter Kaya Des Planque, who ranked fourth on the team with 0.61 kills per set. The Sabers went from three wins to seven this year, and they have a nice young core with freshman setter Rylee Dunkin and sophomores Ali Mockenhaupt, Brooke Roby, Chloe Durian and Jetta Sterner providing contributions among others.
The tournament trail is awesome, but it’s also not awesome. We must say goodbye to 60 seniors, and that’s not easy. The fun (and not fun) continues tonight in 3A, 4A and 5A. We’ll be back here tomorrow with the same goodbyes.
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