After two straight years of finishing as sub-state runners up, the Skyline High School volleyball team is hoping to take that next step this year.


After two straight years of finishing as sub-state runners up, the Skyline High School volleyball team is hoping to take that next step this year.
T-bird coach Summer Younie will have five key returning players off last year’s 37-4 team, including All-League selection Natali Jones.
The 6-0 junior was second on the team in kills and blocks last year, and will man the middle for Skyline this year.
Also back from last year’s varsity squad are libero Amy Jo Maphet (5-5 junior), outside hitter Andrea Hirt (5-5 senior), middle hitter Jordan Gilleece (5-9 senior), and setter Audra Howell (5-9 junior).
Gilleece was third on the team in blocking and fourth in kills as a junior.
“Andrea Hirt just played defense for us last year, but this year she is playing outside all the way around,” Younie said.
The Skyline varsity will include several players who have moved up from the junior varsity ranks, and Younie expects them to contribute immediately.
“Sara Venters (5-8 junior) is going to be a starter on the outside,” Younie said. “Victoria Sanders (5-3 junior) is going to be a big defensive player for us.”
Younie also mentioned a pair of setters - Leah McPherson (5-5 sophomore) and Lindsey Lykins (5-4 junior).
“Audra, Lindsey and Leah are the three setters we’re rotating to find the right two,” she said.
The adjustment to new setters is one of Skyline’s biggest obstacles this year.
“The last three seasons we’ve run a 5-1 with the same setter. It’s always a struggle to adjust to new setters,” Younie said. “The court presence is different, the ball placement is different. It’s just a little different.”
But at the same time, Younie is confident in her new crop of setters.
“They don’t have a lot of experience but they’re doing a great job,” she said of the trio.
The 2007 T-birds were one point away from making the Class 1A tournament, but Quivira Heights rallied past Skyline, and eventually claimed the state title.
But after losing just three seniors (Alayna Howell, Ricci Lambert, and Hannah McPherson) and getting more mentally tough, Younie believes that her squad is up to the challenge.
“I think we’re not quite as strong offensively (as in past years) yet because we’re adjusting to new setters,” Younie said. “Defensively, we’re very strong this year. Blocking-wise and passing-wise I have a lot of confidence in us.”
She also has confidence that the offense will improve during the season.
“Get us a couple weeks into the season, and I think the hitting will come. We have really good hitters, but we’re just trying to find our rhythm with new setters,” she said.
Overall, Younie and assistant coach Holly Simpson feel good heading into  tomorrow’s South Barber Tournament in Kiowa.
“I feel that our team is just as strong as we were last year and we just missed state,” she said.