With five solid returning contributors, Park Hill can set its expectations even higher.
Kayla Huffman, a third-year starter at setter, leads an experienced roster that helped the Trojans to a 20-13-3 season in 2016 that ended with a two-set loss to rival Park Hill South in the Class 4 District 16 championship match. A trio of middle hitters plus a defensive specialist will also return, providing optimism the Trojans can equal or surpass last year’s performance.
“We still have pretty high standards and our core on varsity is all returning, but we have a lot of new faces,” Park Hill coach Lindsey Hood said. “We are placing about 12 new people coming into the program so this preseason we’re having to fix some things and working on our leadership and working on our team chemistry more so than even the volleyball right now.”
Huffman dished out 639 assists a year ago, while also leading Park Hill in service aces (41) and ranking third in digs. Her top returning attackers will be senior Kai Welsh (team-leading 221 kills) and junior Rachel Pella (205 kills), who combined with junior Honor Foutch (86 kills) to form a solid middle attack. Welsh, Pella and Foutch also accounted for 141 blocks, a team-high 56 apiece for Welsh and Pella.
Tyah Burnett and Chelsea Edwards were the two senior outside hitters who ranked third and fourth in kills a year ago.
“This should be our best season out of all four years that we’ve been here,” Welsh said.
Madison Michaelis will be the third senior returning to the starting lineup after she posted a team-best 388 digs a year ago. The returning experience in all aspects of the game has Park Hill thinking about the first playoff trip since 2000.
“It’s our senior year so we just want to win and work harder and push for the top,” Huffman said.