Varsity Volleyball

Meet the top 50 Wichita area volleyball players ahead of the 2019 season

Kapaun beats Maize South in thrilling three-set tournament final

Kapaun and Maize South split the first two sets of the 2018 Maize Invitational championship match. The Cruaders took the third set 25-20 for the title.
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Kapaun and Maize South split the first two sets of the 2018 Maize Invitational championship match. The Cruaders took the third set 25-20 for the title.

Kansas has a lot of volleyball talent, and the Wichita area is home to a lot of it.

Here are the top 50 players in the area ahead of the 2019 Kansas high school volleyball season, as part of the Eagle’s fall preview:

1. Laurel Jones - Maize South, S/RS, Jr.

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All-Metro volleyball team member, Maize South’s Laurel Jones. (November 19, 2018) Jaime Green The Wichita Eagle

Who is the next Gracie Van Driel? It is one of the biggest questions heading into the 2019 high school volleyball season around the Wichita area. Jones is the most likely candidate. Standing 6-foot-1 and verbally committed to Marquette, Jones has the stature and accolades to fill the star void. She was named to the Eagle’s All-Metro team last year along with being selected the AVCTL II MVP as a sophomore.

2. Ella Larkin - Bishop Carroll, OH, Jr.

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All-Metro volleyball team member, Bishop Carroll’s Ella Larkin. (November 19, 2018) Jaime Green The Wichita Eagle

Larkin is one of the Midwest region’s top sand volleyball players, and her game translates well to the court. Last year, Larkin was named to the Class 5A first team, City League first team, All-Metro team and Class 5A All-Tournament team after helping Carroll to a fourth-place finish at state. She is the daughter of a former professional and Olympic selection.

3. Talby Duerksen - Hesston, OH, Sr.

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All-Metro volleyball team member, Hesston’s Talby Duerkrsen. (November 19, 2018) Jaime Green The Wichita Eagle

Duerksen was the driving force behind Hesston’s fourth-place finish in Class 3A last year. She earned numerous accolades, including landing on the Eagle’s All-Metro team. She racked up outstanding stats, including 421 kills. She enters her senior year looking to deliver Hesston’s first state championship in school history.

4. Natasha Dooley - Garden Plain, OH, Sr.

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All-Metro volleyball team member, Garden Plain’s Natasha Dooley. (November 19, 2018) Jaime Green The Wichita Eagle

Garden Plain was the only Wichita area team to win a volleyball state championship last year, and Dooley was the engine. With a cannon for a right arm, Dooley was named to the All-Metro team and likely will again if the Owls can make another state title push. Dooley was the lone state champion from last year’s All-Metro team.

5. Ryen Wilkens - Kapaun Mt. Carmel, L, Sr.

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All-Metro volleyball team member, Kapaun’s Ryen Wilkens. (November 19, 2018) Jaime Green The Wichita Eagle

Kapaun is a team on the rise, and Wilkens is perhaps the biggest contributor to the emergence. Wilkens holds Division I offers and was named to the Eagle’s All-Metro team last season. The Crusaders are poised for a City League title run and perhaps a Class 5A state tournament berth.

6. Ellie Shank - Valley Center, S/OH, Sr.

Like Larkin, Shank is one of the region’s top sand volleyball players. Verbally committed to LSU, Shank will serve as the driving force behind Valley Center’s push toward a Class 5A state tournament berth and AVCTL II championship. Under second-year coach Melissa Segovia, her stats should skyrocket.

7. Rhian Swanson - McPherson, OH, So.

Swanson isn’t only one of the most promising players in the Wichita area but the entire country. She has spent time with USA Volleyball and will be McPherson’s key to a return to the state tournament. If she hits her potential as soon as the Bullpups hope, an AVCTL III title might not be all they celebrate in 2019.

8. Morgan Bruna - Andale, MB/OH, Sr.

Andale has its sights on its first state championship in school history, and if the Indians achieve it, Bruna will be a big reason. One of Andale’s top multi-sport athletes, Bruna was key to Andale’s fourth-place finish in Class 4A last year. She is likely to contend for an All-Metro selection.

9. Riley Daugherty - Bishop Carroll, OH, Jr.

Carroll lost a lot of pieces from the 2018 roster, but it is the only school with two players in the top 10. Alongside fellow outside hitter Ella Larkin, Daugherty is a constant offensive threat for the Golden Eagles. If Carroll gets back to state, Daugherty will be key.

10. Asha Regier - Newton, OH, Jr.

Newton’s offensive was outstanding last year, and if the Railers replicate it, Regier will need to keep up her production from 2018. Regier was named to the AVCTL I first team, helping Newton to a league championship.

11. Kennedy Horacek - Garden Plain, L, Sr.

Horacek is already one of Garden Plain’s most accomplished athletes with three championship rings. She is looking to add to her collection as she helps lead the Owls toward another state volleyball title.

12. Maggie Creitz - Andover, Sr.

Andover is seeking a third straight state tournament berth. Creitz will be one of the Trojans’ senior leaders. Her experience will set her apart on the roster, and her skills will earn herself more accolades after being named to the AVCTL II first team.

13. MayaMay Brown - Andover, So.

Brown has spent time with the USA Beach Volleyball program and is one of the most promising indoor players in the Wichita area. Andover is also one of the area’s top programs heading into 2019, and Brown will play her part in keeping that way.

14. Katelyn Fairchild - Andale, OH, Jr.

Fairchild is quickly turning into one of the Wichita area’s best athletes. As a nationally ranked javelin thrower, she brings power to the Andale volleyball roster that should work well alongside fellow standout Morgan Bruna.

15. Austin Broadie - Trinity Academy, OH, Jr.

Broadie was the driving force behind Trinity’s state tournament berth last season. Her height at 6-foot is daunting for defenses, especially in Class 4A, and she has the power to back it up. She was named to the All-State team last year.

16. Cassie Cooks - McPherson, MB, Sr.

If Rhian Swanson is McPherson’s future, Cooks is the Bullpups’ present. Cooks will be McPherson’s senior leader in 2019 and will provide a dominant presence at the net. She was the team leader in kills and blocks last year.

17. Mallorie Koehn - Maize, OH, Jr.

Koehn is still recovering from a broken collarbone suffered in April, but when she is fully healthy, she will be a vital asset for a team looking to get to state again. Koehn is one of the leaders of one of Wichita’s tallest teams.

18. Grace Thompson - Sedgwick, L, Sr.

Outside of Garden Plain, Thompson might be the Wichita area’s top player in Class 2A. Sedgwick failed to reach state last year despite a strong record. Thompson is the Cardinals’ leader on the floor, so she will motivate the group to improve.

19. Sydney Nilles - Derby, S, Sr.

Derby’s quest for improvement starts with Nilles. She has been part of senior state tournament teams and won a championship with the girls basketball squad in 2018. Her leadership in setting up the offense will be hugely important.

20. Morgan Stout - Nickerson, MB, Sr.

Stout has become one of Kansas’ top multi-sport athletes, and her services on the court make Nickerson a favorite in Class 4A this season despite missing state last year. Her dominance in front of the net is a match-changer.

21. Madison Grimes - Andale, L, Sr.

For all Andale’s power on the outside, Grimes is a tactician at libero. The Indians lean on her defensively and in setting up the offense. She is an outstanding communicator who helped Andale to a fourth-place state finish.

22. Elise Kaiser - Hesston, MH, Sr.

Although most of the attempts go to Hesston’s top outside hitter, Talby Duerksen, Kaiser is just as lethal in front of net. Although not the tallest middle hitter, Kaiser’s explosion and experience make her a constant threat.

23. Heather Mills - Derby, L, Sr.

Like teammate Sydney Nilles, Mills has championship pedigree in her background. As a senior, she has seen the heights of Derby athletics and, as an outstanding vocal leader, will be challenged to change the fate of last season.

24. Abbie Medberry - Goddard, Sr.

Medberry is Goddard’s leader now. After years of consistent play and working her way through the Lions’ ranks, the team will turn to her for production and potentially a state tournament bid in Class 5A.

25. Ashley Sawyer - Trinity Academy, S/RS, Jr.

With all eyes on fellow junior Austin Broadie, Sawyer is the one setting her up. One of the top setters in the Wichita area, Sawyer is widely important to the Trinity Academy offense. The Knights will need her performance to get back to state.

Honorable mention

Gracie Becker - Kapaun Mt. Carmel, H, Sr.; Maggie Brandt - Bishop Carroll, OH, Sr.; Claire Clark - Garden Plain, OPP, Sr.; Sophie Connor - Derby, OH, Jr.; Josie Deckinger - Wichita Northwest, S, Sr.; Abby Godfrey - Maize, OH, So.; Maddie Gooch - Belle Plaine, L, Sr.; Caleigh Haetten - Andover, MB, Jr.; Jenna Jarmer - Andale, Sr.; Cyra Kelley - Nickerson, OH, Sr.; Riley Kennedy - Maize South, L, Jr.; Sydney Lentz - Maize, MB, Jr.; Tori Lujan - Belle Plaine, S/RS, Jr.; Sydney Morrow - Goddard MH/MB, Sr.; McKinley Pruitt - Maize South, MB, Sr.; Alli Puetz - Garden Plain, OH, Jr.; Shelby Reeder - Circle, Sr.; Sage Reichenberger - Andale, DS/OH, Sr.; Celbi Richardson - Hesston, S, Sr.; Erin Roulston - Kapaun Mt. Carmel, OH, Sr.; Kylee Scheer - Cheney, RS/S/OH, Jr.; Brooke Tholen - Wichita East, L, Jr.; Ashley Vonmosch - Bishop Carroll, OH, Sr.; Briana Winkle - Halstead, OH, Sr.; Marah Zenner - Newton, S, Jr.

BEHIND OUR REPORTING

The selection process

Preps reporter Hayden Barber selected these players based on questionnaires sent to coaches, last year’s performances and his own personal evaluation and knowledge of Wichita area high school athletics.

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