Youth is served
Young but talented squad seeks state berth after 30-8 season
Last year, Tonganoxie had its best season under coaches Tiffany and Brandon Parker with a 30-8 campaign and its fourth straight substate runner-up trophy.
That volleyball team was loaded with upperclassmen.
This season, the Chieftains have one senior -- Kalie Hileman -- who has been in the program since she was a freshman, but is in her first year of varsity.
At first glance, it appears that won't bode well for this year's team.
However, Brandon Parker said this year's squad arguably is the most talented team the Chieftains have had since he and his wife came to Tonganoxie.
"It's going to be totally different than the last couple years because of the youth," Parker said. "And that's not different in a bad way.
"This is the team we really think is going to get better as we go along. They just need game experience."
A returnee with plenty of experience is Ali Pistora. A first-team all-Kaw Valley League selection last year, Pistora had 209 kills, 106 blocks and 37 aces last fall as a sophomore. Her talent will be complemented by fellow junior Rachel Bogard. And sophomore Sami Franiuk is a another key returnee for the Chieftains.
Although the team overall is inexperienced varsity-wise, the team has plenty of time to prepare for its first competition.
While the other Tonganoxie fall sports teams started competing this week, the Chieftain volleyball team won't get started until next Wednesday with a quadrangular against Atchison, Baldwin and Bonner Springs. The matches begin at 5 p.m. at the Bonner Springs YMCA complex next to Bonner Springs High School.
The Chieftains opened last season with the same teams, but Tonganoxie had a drastically different squad a year ago. Kills leader Addie Heim, Laura Jeannin, Madison Weller, Hannah Heintzelman, Ashlee Murphy, Kara Coffee and Amanda Hart were on that team, but have since graduated.
"This team is young obviously," Parker said. "But we're more athletic now than we've been since we've been here.
"Now if we can get our volleyball skills up to our athletic skills, good things will happen."