Kaitlyn Donovan returns, and Platte County’s second-year coach looks to have enough players back to start building the continuity she desires.
Last season, the Pirates struggled at times during an 11-16-3 season that ended with a loss in the first round of the Class 4 District 16 tournament. Kenzie Polley and Lauren Walker — seniors — give Platte County a pair of solid returners at the net, while sophomore setter Ashley Bell and defensive specialist junior Carli Hensley can lead the back row.
Donovan became the third head coach in a span of three years for Platte County, and her own experience with playing for multiple coaches in college helped her understand the difficulty.
“I don’t want to necessarily say it was a tough year, but I think it was a transition year,” Donovan said. “I thought the girls last year adjusted well, and I think it’s getting better since the girls are getting to know me a little bit more.
“I think this year will be a lot more cohesive.”
Platte County went 7-3 in Suburban Conference Blue Division play, but just two years removed from the best season in program history, transition and playing in Missouri’s largest class kept the Pirates from consistent results.
There were only five seniors with versatile Bailey Harris and front row players Hannah Kunels, Alex Huntley and Rachel Noll part of a large front line rotation. Only Harris received postseason honors (second team All-Blue Division).
Polley recorded a team-high 149 kills as a junior, while Walker returns after a junior season with 94 kills and 27 blocks. Harper Sinclair, a junior, received some spot play late in the season and showed promise, finishing with 30 kills while senior PJ Curry adds depth to the attack.
Hensley joined Polley on the All-Blue Division first team and also grabbed all-region honors, leading the Pirates’ defense with 256 digs and 305 successful serve receives. Bell, a starter as a freshman, led the way with 330 assists.
Platte County senior Lilly Harrison (133 serves received) and senior Haylie Jerome will have a bigger role on the backrow, while freshman Aly Anderson could make an immediate impact.
“We’ve got a good core,” Donovan said. “I think with last year, the girls didn’t know what to expect with me, and I didn’t really know what to expect. I think this year the girls have really bought into what we want for now and for the coming years.”