Natasha Dooley - Garden Plain
Junior, Outside Hitter, 5-11
Part of the lone state championship volleyball team out of the Wichita area, Dooley was dominant for the Owls. Garden Plain won the Class 2A title over Wabaunsee, and Dooley was an intrumental part. With 340 kills in 2018, Dooley was the Owls’ top threat all season and helped them get out of out of Kansas’ most challenging sub-state tournaments. She said one moment stands out.
“Dancing in the locker room before the second day of state,” Dooley said. “We’re all best friends, and that’s really what got us through the whole season.”
Talby Duerksen - Hesston
Sophomore, Outside Hitter, 5-10
Few expected Hesston to be there on Championship Saturday, but they were. Duerksen was one of the biggest reasons. She finished the 2018 season with 421 kills, among the most in Kansas and was one of the Swathers’ top defensive options with 269 digs. The Swathers finished fourth in the Class 3A tournament after losing several key players.
“I had to step up for sure, and a few other players stepped up, too,” Duerksen said. “Basically we had a whole new varsity team, so it was a lot of new things.”
Laurel Jones - Maize South
Sophomore, Setter/Middle Hitter, 6-1
Jones is one of the most promising players in Kansas, but she has already found her stride. She finished with 338 kills with nearly a 50 percent kill rate, which was among the best in the state. She helped a senior-laden Mavericks team to the Class 5A tournament after topping Kapaun in their sub-state championship.
“It was definitely really fun, but it was also kind of emotional,” Jones said. “(The seniors) were kind of my best friends, so just knowing that I’m not going to get to play with them is kind of sad.”
Ella Larkin - Bishop Carroll
Sophomore, Outside Hitter, 5-10
Bishop Carroll is a team many have their eyes on heading into 2019. The Golden Eagles finished fourth in Class 5A with a lot of talented youth on the roster. Larkin is one of the headliners of that youth movement. She helped Carroll to the No. 1 seed at the state tournament as well as a City League title.
“I have a lot of family on the team, so obviously playing with them (is special), but just getting our seniors and our juniors and playing for them was probably one of the best things,” Larkin said.
Katelyn Moore - Douglass
Senior, Outside Hitter, 5-7
Moore was the top player on one of the top regular season teams of 2018. Douglass finished the season 32-6, and Moore was instrumental in that. She had a staggering 534 kills to go with 274 digs and 68 aces. Although she stands 5-foot-7, Moore was one of the most explosive players in Kansas this season.
“Even though it didn’t end how we wanted it to, we had an awesome season,” she said. “I had a lot of fun with my senior girls for our last year. I feel like we could have gone further, but we tried our hardest for that last game, and I felt like we really played our best that last game. And that’s always the end goal to finish at your best.”
Gracie Van Driel - Rose Hill
Senior, Middle Blocker, 6-0
Making her third and final appearance on the Eagle’s All-Metro team, Van Driel will leave the Wichita area as one of its most accomplished players, and 2018 only helped that case. She finished the season with 443 kills at 40.3 percent with 251 digs and 52 blocks. At 6-0, she was one of the state’s most dangerous players, and that’s why she is heading to Kansas.
“The thing I’m most excited for is the atmosphere and everyone I’m going to play with,” Van Driel said. “Everything is so competitive there, and I’m ready for that next step.”
Ryen Wilkens - Kapaun Mt. Carmel
Junior, Libero, 5-4
Kapaun didn’t enter the 2018 season with a lot of size, but Wilkens helped the Crusaders to heights few expected them to reach. Kapaun won the Maize Invitational over Maize South and fell a game short of reaching the 5A tournament, losing to Maize South in the sub-state championship. Wilkens said it was a memorable season.
“We had never really had that connection like that before, and coming together like that was definitely a confidence booster for us this season,” she said.
Kaylie Bergkamp - Andale, Coach of the Year
In her first season at Andale, Bergkamp took the Indians to a fourth-place finish in Class 4A and was just a game away from reaching the state championship match. The Indians tore through the regular season and finished 34-9 for one of their best finishes in school history. Bergkamp said the way her girls came together, particularly late in the season, was special to watch.
“When I stepped into the gym this summer, there were a lot of changes that needed to be made to make our program successful at the next level,” she said. “Just seeing the kids want it so bad and putting the pieces in the right place, working hard for it and seeing them at state work together and connect the pieces and believe in themselves, I think that’s going to be the piece I remember the most.”