The lights got low and the music turned high Thursday night at the Sports and Aquatic Center as middle and high school volleyball athletes prepared for their introductions as part of Marion’s “Night of Champions.”
One by one, each girl was introduced as the crowd cheered them on.
Middle school volleyball was up first for a scrimmage.
“Things went really well,” coach Leann Klenda said. “There were some things I noticed we need to work on, of course, but all in all, they really showed that they’re getting the new offense that we started, coming together as a group, and showing that they are more and more ready for their first game.”
Middle school volleyball has strength in numbers this year with 11 eighth graders and 16 seventh graders on the team.
The high school volleyball scrimmage came next with a standing ovation from the crowd.
Team members showed hustle, strength, power, and tons of positive high-fives in-between plays to keep the energy high.
“When we first came out, I felt really good about it,” coach Kris Burkholder said. “I think we can play with anybody in our league. I know we can be very competitive. These girls are working hard, a lot of energy. They want to win. They’re working together, so if you want to see some good volleyball, come watch us.”
The season already has begun for the high school team with home games Monday against Rural Vista and Tuesday against Hutchinson Trinity.
At the football stadium, remaining teams were introduced in one big opening ceremony.
Middle and high school football, cheer, and cross-country athletes were introduced one by one with the home crowd cheering them on.
Once every player was on the field, football coach Shaun Craft and his team gave Jen Friesen a tribute.
“We’re healthy, the boys have been working hard, we got most of the guys back from last season, and we are building on top of that momentum for this season,” Craft said.
The team’s first official game will be Friday at Inman.
Middle school football was the only scrimmage Thursday at the stadium. The team showed off its running game with no passes, but plenty of points were scored. Not all the points available were scored, however, because the defense stepped up with goal line tackles to deny access on crucial plays.
“Tonight went well,” coach Austin Murphy said. “I’m excited for the season. We have a good group of boys who came out and worked hard all summer, and I think we are going to have a great season.”
Athletics director Jason Hett was host for the event at both locations and was happy with the turnout.
He also is middle and high school cross-country coach.
“Our group is hungry for their goals,” he said. “They barely missed state last year on the boys side, and they are hungry to get back there as a team to make a statement.”
The cross-country team will face Abilene for its season opener Thursday.
“I think we are ready,” Hett said. “We will get a couple more days of practice in before then, but it will be a good test to see where we are at. It’s a challenging course.”
Marion’s “Night of Champions” ended with a moonlight mile run by the cross-country team that anyone in attendance could join.
The top four finishers not on the team won Marion T-shirts.