After winning 43 games last season without any losses, the Bluebirds volleyball team fell in three sets in the state finals for its only loss of the year, taking second in 1A Division I.
Head coach Crysta Guhr, in her 11th year as head coach, wants to see her team succeed where it last year could not.
“Coach says she doesn’t care what the record is at the end of the season, as long as the banner we put up does not say ‘runner up,’” senior Alicen Meysing said.
The Bluebirds will be without two seniors from last year’s team. The rest of the firepower returns.
“Last year was full of good memories, but that was last year,” Guhr said. “This season is what we prepare for, and we need to add to those memories.”
Goessel returns six letter-winners. Alyssa Booton, 5-foot-8 senior, set a school record in 2014 with 870 assists. She has multiple targets to use along the front line. Page Hiebert, 5-foot-10 senior, holds the school record for most kills in a season with 455. She was honored as Kansas Volleyball Association’s 1A-I player of the year.
Meysing plays front row defensively, and helps as a middle hitter. Olivia Duerksen, 5-foot-11 junior, led the team last year in blocks with 81.
Eden Hiebert, 5-foot-10 sophomore, led the team in 2014 with 426 digs. Brittney Hiebert, 5-foot-10 sophomore, adds power to the front row as a middle hitter.
Booton smiled when asked about this year’s team.
“We have so many options,” she said. “Page and Eden hit from the left side, but there are hitters in the middle and opposite side.”
The Bluebirds are hoping to use last year’s heartbreaking finale as motivation.
“The one loss last year hit us pretty hard because it came in the state finals,” Hiebert said. “We are motivated by that experience.”
“Getting to state undefeated probably put a burden on us, but it also motivated us,” she said. “We want the experience of state finals again.”
Guhr also said there will be other quality Bluebird players to watch.
Senior Aleena Cook may find a spot on this year’s squad. Junior Shelby Stultz is expected to add strength as a defensive specialist. Sophomore Leah Booton may blossom from the opposite hitter position and freshman Savanna Wuest will use her aggressive serves.
“Goessel is so fortunate to have such depth for a 1A school,” Guhr said. “Almost all of these girls played club volleyball for several summers. I believe our players come into the high school program three years ahead of most girls their age, because of the time they spend during the summer. We have a tradition for good volleyball here.”