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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

'Hound volleyball sets sights high

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sonya Petroski is well aware of the records her first two Fort Scott Community College volleyball teams have recorded.

But things can change quickly in junior-college volleyball and Petroski's players have set their goals on taking long strides rather than small steps in improving this season.

"I think we're going to have a lot more wins than we had last year," Petroski said. "Last year was great because we moved forward. This year, we're wanting to take that bigger step and have a winning season instead of having just a few more wins."

Just three players return. Katie Van Lue is a 5' 10" middle hitter from Granby, Mo. Jessica Cook is a 5' 11" middle hitter from Warsaw, Mo. and Kayla Case is a 5' 4" libero from Sparta, Mo.

"All three of those girls are showing a lot of leadership potential," Petroski said. "I think all three of them are going to be able to fill some pretty big roles."

Four other freshmen are 5' 10" or taller and three of the potential setters are at least 5' 8", which makes this the tallest overall team Petroski has coached at the school.

"Our offense is going to be really strong," Petroski said. "We have some really good attackers. And we have a pretty tall front row this year, which is really good because we've had some problems with height the past couple of years. We're not going to have to worry about out height being the weak part of our game. But once we get our offense going, we're going to be really competitive."

Outside hitters are Kayla Tarwater (5' 9", Reeds, Mo.), Jessica Garrett (5' 11", LaCygne) and Racheal Wilmes (5' 10", Willard, Mo.). Holly Huffman (6' 1", Springdale, Ark.) is a right-side hitter.

Heather Greer (5' 9", Pomona), who can also play outside hitter, Tanessa Ersey (5' 10", El Dorado Springs, Mo.), who can also play the right side, Paige Clinton (5' 8", Prairie View, Kan.) and Salette Schlee (5' 4", Frontenac) are the team's four setters. Annie Smith (5' 6", Fayetteville, Ark.), who attended Wellsville until her senior season, is a libero.

Who's the standout among the freshmen? There isn't one but it's because they're all working so hard that Petroski seems to be happy with all of them.

"It's hard to say 'top freshmen' because all of them have really shone through," Petroski said. "A lot of them have surprised me from what I expected when they came in to what they're doing for us now. We played in the conference scrimmage in El Dorado (Aug. 21) and all of the freshmen really shone through and you wouldn't be able to tell they're freshmen by the way that they played. And that's really exciting. We have some really talented freshmen and they're all extremely competitive."

With their height, Petroski expects the Greyhounds to be a better offensive team. The setters have to get the ball to the hitters and she feels she has four who are strong.

Smith has been a libero for most of her volleyball-playing career, which means her learning curve will be shorter.

"Annie's a really talented player," Petroski said. "She's played libero for a good amount of her volleyball career. She's a real strong passer. She and Kayla have been giving each other some very strong competition and almost too good because it's been hard to decide on which one to go with."

Among the goals the players have is to get more individuals on the national statistics lists. It may sound individualistic on the face of it, but there's some logic to it: If more names appear on those lists, it verifies the improvement they're looking to make.

The Greyhounds also want to be competitive within the Jayhawk Conference-Eastern Division. Petroski says this means that they'll want to finish ahead of teams like Independence, Labette, Allen County and Neosho County. They they can look to compete with Butler, Coffeyville and Neosho County, which have had stronger programs over the years. Cowley, which is ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA Division II pre-season poll, and Johnson County, which is No. 4, are the elite teams.

Wednesday night's season opener against Highland, which has made an improvement in recent seasons as the Greyhounds want to make, will give the team an idea of what they have to do to be competitive.

And if they can be competitive, then why not think big?

"At the conference scrimmage, there were people coming up to the girls asking 'Where did Fort Scott come from? They never used to be like this.'," Petroski said. "So I'm kind of excited for that.

"A real big goal for these girls is that if we do make it to districts, to then win districts. And I know that sounds kind of strange, saying that Fort Scott can go from 0-31, to 9-21 and now they're talking about winning districts. But I think we've got the team this year that can do it."

Wednesday's match begins at 6 p.m. at Arnold Arena on the FSCC campus.

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