Kapaun beats Maize South in thrilling three-set tournament final
The Wichita area’s top high school volleyball teams are set to take aim at a state championship in 2019.
Here is at look at each team’s top returning players, 2018 performance and an outlook on how 2019 might play out:
Coach: Kaylie Bergkamp (Entering 2nd season, 34-9)
Last season: 34-9
2018 postseason finish: Lost in third-place match to Topeka Hayden
- Morgan Bruna, M, Sr.
- Katelyn Fairchild, OH, Jr.
- Madison Grimes, DS/L, Sr.
Andale was one of the best feel-good stories of the Wichita area volleyball season. Under first-year coach Kaylie Bergkamp, the Indians were a set away from reaching the Class 4A championship match against Bishop Miege. Instead, they dropped two straight to Louisburg and lost in the consolation. Now Andale has its sights on its first state championship in school history. Andale’s talent is tough to match in any classification anywhere in Kansas, but Bishop Miege, the defending champion, might be the biggest challenger.
Coach: Holly Avalos (Entering 2nd season, 35-4)
Last season: 35-4 (AVCTL II)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in state tournament pool play to St. Thomas Aquinas and Lansing
- Maggie Creitz, OH/DS, Sr.
- Caleigh Haetten, MB, Jr.
- MayaMay Brown, RS, So.
It’s a good time to be an Andover volleyball player. The Trojans are on a two-year run of state tournament appearances. Although Andover has to replace standout libero Brynn Wilson, the Trojans bring back some of the top talent in the Wichita area, including senior Maggie Creitz and beach volleyball star MayaMay Brown. Together, they will bolster the lineup and help Andover in AVCTL II and Class 5A, looking to carry the flag for the Wichita area at state against the Kansas City powers.
Coach: Stacey Hart-Townsley (Entering 1st season, 0-0)
Last season: 21-18 (AVCTL II)
- Ally Harris, MH, Jr.
- Ellie Stearns, S, So.
Andover Central is under new leadership in coach Stacey Hart-Townsley. The Jaguars are struggling for experience with only two starters coming back, sophomore Ellie Stearns and Ally Harris - both of whom are struggling through injuries. Hart-Townsley said 2019 will be about implementing a culture of “accountability and growth.” Andover Central may struggle for wins in AVCTL II, one of the Wichita area’s strongest volleyball leagues, but Hart-Townsley said she is looking for continuous growth.
Coach: Rita Mernagh (Entering 13th season)
Last season: 31-11 (9-0, City League)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in third-place match to Lansing
- Ella Larkin, S/OH, Jr.
- Rylie Daugherty, OH, Jr.
- Maggie Brandt, OH, Sr.
Bishop Carroll made Wichita area volleyball history last year. Outside of once in 2011, in 54 tries, no Wichita area team has reached the 6A or 5A semifinals by beating a Kansas City area team. The Golden Eagles finished fourth at state, but now Carroll has to reload after losing four critical seniors. Carroll still has a dynamic duo of juniors Ella Larkin and Rylie Daugherty but will need a large crew of seniors to step up, including Maggie Brandt, Jadyn Brown and Grace Mernagh. Carroll will look to hold on the City League title in 2019 with rival Kapaun and nearby foe Wichita Northwest on the hunt.
Coach: Karen Wiseman (Entering 11th season)
Last season: 33-10 (8-1, Central Plains League)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in state tournament pool play to Silver Lake and Beloit
- Madi Gooch, L, Sr.
- Tori Lujan, S, Jr.
- Lea Morel, OH, Sr.
Belle Plaine was one of the top teams in the Wichita area last year, especially among the small-classification schools. The Dragons beat rival Douglass to get to state and will be looking to replicate that success. Belle Plaine returns all but two from last year’s roster, but one of them was last year’s Female Athlete of the Year Hanna Mowdy. The Dragons’ ability to hang in the Central Plains League alongside Cheney, Garden Plain and others will be a benchmark for their postseason success in a loaded Class 3A field.
Coach: Kathy Russell (Entering 3rd season, 36-36)
Last season: 19-17 (6-4, AVCTL III)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in sub-state first round to Rose Hill
- Hadley Waldren, M, Jr.
- Leah Bentley, L/OH, Jr.
- Emmie Kleinherenbrink, S/RS, Sr.
Buhler could be a team on the rise in 2019. The Crusaders set a pair of school records last year, junior Hadley Waldren with 126 blocks and junior Leah Bentley with 110 digs. The Crusaders finished third in AVCTL III last year and will be looking to break through McPherson and Circle into the top two and contend for a spot at the Class 4A state tournament. They bring back a strong group of upperclassmen with four outstanding seniors and three promising juniors.
Coach: Sara Walkup (Entering 11th season, 329-78)
Last season: 26-11 (6-3, Central Kansas League)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in sub-state championship
- Cierra Harrison, OH, Sr.
- Madi Hair, DS, Sr.
- Kylee Scheer, OH, Jr.
After losing six seniors from last year’s roster, Cheney could be in a bit of a rebuild this season in a difficult Central Plains League that includes the defending Class 2A champion and two other state qualifying teams. The Cardinals have a deal of young talent but little senior leadership, brining back only two in Cierra Harrison and Madi Hair. If the underclassmen perform, Cheney could still contend for a spot at state and a top three finish in the CPL.
Coach: Shelly Nibarger (Entering 31st season, 777-341)
Last season: 26-13 (7-3, AVCTL III)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in sub-state championship to Andale
- Shelby Reeder, OH, Sr.
- Mallory Cowman, MH, Sr.
- Kayli Duncan, MH, Sr.
Circle got a tough draw in sub-state, going against Andale in the sub-state championship. Andale went on to finish fourth in Class 4A. In 2019, Circle will be geared up for another run to state under coach Shelly Nibarger, entering her 31st season in which she could hit 800 wins. Circle will be in contention for the AVCTL III along with McPherson. The Thunderbirds will need a few underclassmen to step up, but with three high-caliber seniors on the roster - Shelby Reeder, Mallory Cowman and Kayli Duncan - Circle should have another promising season.
Coach: Kyane Berline-May (Entering 2nd season, 16-18)
Last season: 16-18 (5-5, AVCTL IV)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in sub-state first round to Andale
- Lexi Cash, OH, Sr.
- Nicole Robinson, S, Sr.
- Ivy Berline, MH, Sr.
Clearwater could have a surprising season. With five seniors on the roster, the Indians are wealthy in experience and have a bit of talent to match. Lexi Cash, Nicole Robinson and Carlee Lill have been important pieces to the Clearwater lineup, and the addition of Caldwell transfer Ivy Berline should bolster the roster. Berline was named to the South Central Border League first team last season. Clearwater will fight to compete among the strong teams in AVCTL IV and should be poised for more postseason success in 2019.
Coach: Regan Carlstrom (Entering 2nd season, 7-29)
Last season: 7-29 (0-10, AVCTL IV)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in sub-state second round to Belle Plaine
- Alessandra Vedder, OH/S, Jr.
- Ashton Winter, L, Jr.
- Eley Johnson, OH, Jr.
Hopes are high at Collegiate in 2019 after a disappointing 2018 season. The Spartans bring back a lot of talent in its junior class, including hitters Alessandra Vedder and Eley Johnson. AVCTL IV will be a tough league to contend in, but with the experienced gained during the regular season, the postseason could be an improvement.
Coach: Shelby Kraus (Entering 21st season, 457-322)
Last season: 18-21 (9-3, AVCTL I)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in sub-state first round to Garden City
- Sydney Nilles, S, Sr.
- Sophie Connor, OH, Jr.
- Heather Mills, L, Sr.
Last year was a bit of a disappointment for Derby volleyball. Finishing the season with a losing record and a first-round sub-state exit left a sour taste in the Panthers’ mouths. With that, the 2019 squad should be must improved with few departures and athletes back who know how to win matches, including seniors Sydney Nilles and Heather Mills. Derby’s future also looks bright with players like transfer Tatum Boettjer, sophomore Adi Igo and junior Sophie Connor, who earned AVCTL I honors last season.
Coach: Leanna Braddy (Entering 14th season, 301-176)
Last season: 32-6 (7-2, Central Plains League)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in sub-state championship to Belle Plaine
- Jaydin Desylva, OH, Sr.
- McKenlie Kirkhart, S/DS, Jr.
- Myra Megli, MB, Jr.
Douglass comes into the 2019 season with a tinge of disappointment from last season. The Bulldogs didn’t hit double-digit losses but failed to reach the Class 3A state tournament, losing in the sub-state championship game to rival Belle Plaine. Now they must point their focus to the future after graduating eight seniors. With a junior-heavy roster, including McKenlie Kirkhart and Myra Megli, the Bulldogs have begun the rebuild.
Coach: Shelby Allee (Entering 3rd season, 58-37)
Last season: 21-20 (AVCTL II)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in sub-state championship
- Hannah Brisco, MH, Sr.
- Bridgette Graham, OH, Sr.
- Makayla Brungardt, MH, Sr.
Eisenhower struggled to find consistency last season and finished near where it started with a 21-20 record. The Tigers couldn’t get out of their sub-state tournament and failed to reach the Class 5A state tournament. Now they come back in 2019 looking to finish in the top half of AVCTL II, a brutal league, and contend for a spot at state. Eisenhower has a strong senior class, including a pair of middle hitters, Hannah Brisco and Makayla Brungardt.
Coach: Gina Clark (Entering 12th season, 566-243)
Last season: 35-10 (9-0, Central Plains League)
2018 postseason finish: Won class 2A state championship against Wabaunsee
- Natasha Dooley, OH, Sr.
- Kennedy Horacek, L, Sr.
- Claire Clark, OPP, Sr.
Garden Plain might be the most talented team in the Wichita area, regardless of classification. Take that talent to Class 2A, and the Owls could be looking at a second straight state championship. 2018 was one of the most remarkable years for the Garden Plain girls in school history, winning three championships in one year, and it started with volleyball. From All-Metro-caliber players like Natasha Dooley, a 2018 selection, and experienced seniors like Claire Clark and Kennedy Horacek, the Owls have talent, depth and a winning background. Garden Plain is looking for state championship No. 6 in 2019.
Coach: Marianne Mooney (Entering 2nd season,
Last season: 16-5 (3-3, AVCTL II)
- Abbie Medbery, S/OH, Sr.
- Sydney Morrow, MH/MB, Sr.
- Kinley Poynter, L, Sr.
Goddard has been one of the Wichita area’s most consistent programs over the past few years, and 2019 looks like another promising one. With all but one player coming back from last year’s roster, the Lions are eyeing a return to the state tournament after a year away. They will lean on hitters like seniors Sydney Morrow and Abbie Medberry to go along with senior blocker Bryttan Samaniego. Winning the AVCTL II title should be top priority as the rest of the goals could fall in line afterward.
Coach: Crysta Guhr (Entering 15th season)
Last season: 25-13 (8-1, Wheat State League)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in sub-state
- Raechel Boese, OH, Jr.
- Kaleigh Guhr, S, So.
- Elizabeth Alderfer, OH, Sr.
It’s time for a new era at Goessel. Losing five seniors last year and only returning one, leadership will be at a premium for one of the most historic programs in Kansas. The Bluebirds have a lot of roles to fill in order to contend for the Wheat State League title alongside powers like Rural Vista, Little River and Herington.
Coach: Diana Schutte (Entering 6th season)
Last season: 30-9 (7-3, Central Kansas League)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in sub-state to Cheney
- Briana Winkle, OH, Sr.
- Maddie McClain, MH, Jr.
- Karenna Gerber, MH, Jr.
Halstead’s might have missed its chance to qualify for state last year. The Dragons didn’t lost double-digit games but were not among the final eight in Class 3A. Now Halstead looks to redeem itself after losing six seniors from last year’s roster, including all setters. The Dragons’ two seniors will have to inspire a relatively inexperienced group through a tough Central Kansas League schedule.
Coach: Jason Peters (Entering 15th season, 368-161)
Last Season: 32-10 (8-1, Central Kansas League)
2018 Postseason Finish: Lost in third-place match to Beloit
- Talby Duerksen, OH, Sr.
- Elise Kaiser, MH/OH, Sr.
- Celbi Richardson, S, Sr.
Hesston might have a better chance at winning a state championship than a league title. The Central Kansas League title race will be heated through the regular season and will undoubtedly play a part in postseason seeding, but regardless, the Swathers have the talent to win Class 3A. With All-Metro outside hitter Talby Duerksen returning for her senior season, Hesston will have a chance in every match. Duerksen is one of Kansas’ top players; last year she finished with 469 digs, 181 kills and 70 blocks. She will work alongside seniors like Elise Kaiser, Celbi Richardson and Emily Koehn. This is likely the year if Hesston is going to pull of a title.
Coach: Maria Aikins (Entering 3rd season, 38-43)
Last season: 22-16 (AVCTL I)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in sub-state first round to Wichita Southeast
- Peyton Allen, S, Sr.
- Tina Robertson, OH, Sr.
- McKenzie Ontjes, L, Sr.
Hutchinson had several high points throughout the 2018 season, but the Salthawks struggled once the postseason hit. Hutch lost in the first round of its Class 6A sub-state tournament to Wichita Southeast, who finished in the bottom half of the City League. Hutchinson has a shot at winning the AVCTL I title this season, but the Salthawks will need to find more consistency and play their best against league foes Derby, Maize and Newton.
Kapaun Mt. Carmel
Coach: Amanda Neppl (Entering 4th season, 66-44)
Last season: 24-11 (City League)
2018 postseason: Lost in sub-state championship to Maize South
- Ryen Wilkens, L, Sr.
- Gracie Becker, OH/DS, Sr.
- Erin Roulston, MH, Sr.
Kapaun was close to putting the pieces together last season but didn’t have a lot of experience. The Crusaders are hopeful for a special season, coach Amanada Neppl said. Kapaun has learned how to win and compete for a City League title alongside rival Bishop Carroll. A GWAL championship will be toward the top of Kapaun’s goals this season as Carroll is in a bit of a rebuild after coming fourth in Class 5A last season. If the Crusaders can prove to themselves they can achieve, a state tournament appearance might be within reach.
Coach: Allison Ott (Entering 2nd season, 15-23)
Last season: 15-23 (8-4, AVCTL I)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in sub-state first round to Newton
- Mallorie Koehn, OH, Jr.
- Sydney Lentz, MB, Jr.
- Abby Godfrey, OH, So.
Maize might still be a year away from competing with the best teams in Kansas, but there is no reason the Eagles can’t win an AVCTL I title or make it to state. Maize returns six players, including five starters. Junior Mallorie Koehn is one of the area’s top players but is coming back from a broken collarbone suffered in April. She will work alongside young players like Sydney Lentz and Abby Godfrey and senior Sophia Buzard, who is committed to Kansas softball. AVCTL I is one of the open-ended leagues in the Wichita area with Newton needing a lot of replacements and Derby still working to get back to the top.
Coach: Teri Larson (Entering 3rd season, 170-76)
Last season: 36-8 (11-2, AVCTL II)
2018 postseason: Lost in state tournament pool play to De Soto, St. James and Bishop Carroll
- Laurel Jones, S, Jr.
- McKinley Pruitt, MB, Sr.
- Riley Kennedy, L, Jr.
Maize South was one of the most talented teams not only in the Wichita area but all of Kansas last year. The Mavericks reached the Class 5A state tournament but couldn’t advance past pool play. Now they must find replacements for one of 2018’s most senior-heavy teams. Maize South is full of players who know how to win though. Junior Riley Kennedy and senior Carley Sternecker will figure into the starting lineup in 2019 and both were part of the third-place softball team last season. The Mavericks also still have Laurel Jones, one of Kansas’ top players, and team-leading blocker McKinley Pruitt.
Coach: Christy Doile (Entering 14th season, 397-150)
Last season: 30-11 (AVCTL III)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in sub-state championship to Newton
- Cassie Cooks, OH, Sr.
- Rhian Swanson, OH, So.
- Andrea Sweat, MH, Sr.
McPherson’s 2018 senior class will be remembered fondly in the community. Players like Jaycee Burghart, Michaela Bowers and Kallie Jost are gone, but the Bullpups have a strong roster returning. Seniors Cassie Cooks and Andrea Sweat have battled to win the respect of the roster and have some stats to prove they deserve it. Cooks had 351 kills last year, and Sweat, despite a broken foot that kept her out last year, had a team-high 72 blocks as a sophomore. McPherson is looking to get back to state with six returning starters, including sophomore Rhian Swanson, one of the top players in Kansas.
Coach: Holli Carter (Entering 1st season, 0-0)
Last year: 35-12 (8-1, Heart of America)
2018 postseason finish: Won third-place game against Olpe
- Sarah Brunk, MH/OH, Sr.
- ZiZi Sebrant, OH/MH, Sr.
- Hailey Unruh, DS, Sr.
Despite entering 2019 with a first-year coach, Holli Carter, Moundridge’s expectations are high after finishing third in Class 1A last year. The Wildcats bring back a wealth of senior leadership and eight freshmen. Moundridge is one of the great volleyball programs in Kansas high school history with eight state championships, but the Wildcats have none since 2009; they will be looking to change that.
Coach: Jesse Kollmeyer (Entering 3rd season, 23-51)
Last season: 14-23 (3-7, AVCTL IV)
2018 Postseason finish: Lost in second round of sub-state
- Lexie Abasolo, OH/S, Sr.
- Carson White, OH, Sr.
- Callie Humboldt, OH/L, Sr.
2019 could be a year for a jump for the Wildcats. With four experienced seniors coming back, including Lexie Abasolo, who has started every game of her career, Mulvane is looking to build off a losing season in a tough league. AVCTL IV is one of the strongest leagues in the Wichita area, so wins might be hard to come by at times in the schedule. But like Mulvane’s baseball team in 2018, which reached the state semifinals, the Wildcats’ volleyball team could be one to watch come postseason.
Coach: Jamie Dibbens (Entering 14th season)
Last season: 31-11 (10-2, AVCTL I)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in state tournament pool play to Lansing, Andover and St. Thomas Aquinas
- Asha Regier, OH, Jr.
- Marah Zenner, DS, Jr.
- Lindsey Antonowich, RS, Jr.
Newton has a lot of changes to address ahead of the 2019 season, but even with the rotating doors in the starting lineup, the Railers still have a great shot at the AVCTL I title and another state tournament berth. Newton lost seven seniors from last year, including league MVP Maggie Remsberg, but with a strong junior class, the Railers shouldn’t experience too much of a dropoff.
Coach: Deedra Woodbury
Last season: 29-8 (10-1, Central Kansas League)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in sub-state championship
- Morgan Stout, MH, Sr.
- Cyra Kelley, OH, Sr.
- Madison Ontjes, Sr.
Nickerson might have a better shot at a state championship than a Central Kansas League title. The Panthers will battle with Class 3A favorite Hesston in league play before heading into the 4A postseason. Last year, Nickerson didn’t have enough gas to reach the state tournament. That will be one of the biggest goals with a strong lineup coming back.
Coach: Cherith Mock (Entering 2nd season, 30-7)
Last season: 30-7 (8-2, AVCTL IV)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in state tournament pool play to Louisburg and Topeka Hayden
- Haley Thrush, Jr.
- Rylie Baker, Jr.
- Aspen Goetz, Jr.
In terms of accomplishments and impact, no team lost more ahead of the 2019 season than Rose Hill. The Rockets took the court with five seniors with 10 combined state championships. Now they must find a way to replace them and maintain the reputation they created. The good news: Rose Hill’s junior class has a chance to mold its own legacy. Playing in a tough AVCTL IV league, Rose Hill may hit some bumps along the way, but come postseason, the Rockets have seen how to win.
Coach: Karen Stucky (Entering 18th season, 403-197)
Last season: 34-4 (Heart of America)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in sub-state championship to Garden Plain
- Grace Thompson, L, Sr.
- Hadyn Anderson, MB/OPP, Sr.
- Kami Matson, S, Jr.
Sedgwick was one of the Wichita area’s best teams last year but failed to reach the state tournament in Class 2A. The Cardinals will be fired up to get back to state and prove they can hang with the best teams in the state like area foe Garden Plain. And Sedgwick has the power to do it. With six returning players, all earning Heart of America League honors last year, Sedgwick is poised for success in 2019.
Coach: Marie Goscha (Entering 16th season, 331-186)
Last season: 23-17 (5-4, Central Plains League)
2018 postseason: Lost in state tournament pool play to Andale and Bishop Miege
- Austin Broadie, OH, Jr.
- Ashley Sawyer, RS/S, Jr.
- Lauren Mathews, M, Sr.
Trinity Academy didn’t have the best record at state last year, but once the Knights got there, they showed the belonged despite going 1-2. Their loses came to third-place finisher Andale and champion Bishop Miege. Now Trinity returns as one of the most promising teams in the Wichita area with five returning starters. Garden Plain will be the favorite in the Central Plains League, but Trinity might be second-favorite.
Coach: Melissa Segovia (Entering 2nd season, 22-16)
Last season: 22-16 (AVCTL II)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in sub-state championship
- Ellie Shank, S/RS, Sr.
- Carlie Claussen, S, Sr.
- Kait McDonald, MH, Sr.
Valley Center has a lot of talent in a couple of spots, most important, coach. Melissa Segovia came to Valley Center last year after an outstanding run at Rose Hill in which she won back-to-back Class 4A state championships. In her first year with the Hornets in 5A, Valley Center went 22-16. Valley Center also has one of the top players in the Wichita area, Ellie Shank, an outstanding sand player as well. Shank led the team in kills and hitting percentage last year on her way to an AVCTL II first team selection and All-State honors.
Coach: Adriana Leake (Entering 1st season, 0-0)
Last season: 25-15 (11-4, City League)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in sub-state first round to Goddard
- Josie Deckinger, S, Sr.
- Brooklyn Shook, DS/S, Jr.
- Caiya Stucky, RS, Jr.
The City League is up for grabs, and Northwest has its eyes on the title. Last year, Bishop Carroll ran through GWAL, including the Grizzlies. Now under first-year coach Adriana Leake, Northwest is hoping for a little inspiration after a 25-15 season. With senior Josie Deckinger leading the group and juniors Brooklyn Shook and Caiya Stucky serving as staples in the starting lineup, Northwest should fight for a top three spot in the City League at least and a potential berth at state.
Coach: Valerie Most
Last season: 21-16 (8-8, City League)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in sub-state championship
- Jalia Harding, S/OH, Jr.
- Liz Taylor, OH/DS, Sr.
- Talia Wright, MH, Jr.
- Saria Sumpter, MH, Sr.
- Shayna Posey, S/OH, Jr.
Southeast was a game away from history in 2018. The Wichita area’s drought from the Class 6A tournament has been well documented, and the Golden Buffaloes came runners-up in their sub-state tournament last year. This year, they might have a shot to get to state. The Buffaloes return some strong players, including a stout junior class of setter Jalia Harding, middle hitter Talia Wright and setter Shayna Posey.
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