It would have been hard for Skyline head volleyball coach Summer Younie to script a better season than the 29-12 one her girls had in 2012, except perhaps for the ending.
Undefeated in the league regular season, the T-Birds also captured the championship of the HOPL tournament-the first time that had been accomplished in school history.
Then a dominating cruise through substate landed Skyline in the 2A state tournament. Although not making it out of pool play, going 1-2, the Thunderbirds were in every match at state, and things could have gone their way with just a few more breaks.
“I would have liked to have done better,” Younie said in analyzing her team’s performance at state, “but we just couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm. We didn’t play our best, but we didn’t play our worst either.”
The T-Birds had to face challenges throughout the season, mostly injury-related. Senior Harley Weaver missed time with an appendix and junior Kaitlyn Stark had an ankle that kept her sidelined.
“It was tough playing in that Great Bend tournament (in which the T-Birds went 0-6) without our leading hitter and second setter (Stark),” Younie explained.
Younie was especially pleased with the development of certain players this season. “Taylor DeWeese and Taylor Tobin both really improved this year,” Younie mentioned. “They both worked hard in the off-season, were really diligent in their summer conditioning and lifting. They’re both hard workers and have great attitudes.”
“Shelby Bender is another player that came along well this season,” Younie continued. “She knows how to focus on her strengths and concentrate on what she does well, like serving and communication. Shelby was one of our best players at state.”
Every season sees the departure of a class of seniors, but Skyline will miss this group especially. Morgan Flowers, Ashley Koirth and Harley Weaver were stalwarts in the T-Bird line-up while Shannon Neifert was a key role-player off the bench.
“They are just a good group of girls,” Younie said. “We will really miss them, especially defensively.”
Even with the departure of the starting libero, setter and a primary hitter (Weaver, Koirth and Flowers respectively), the cupboard will not be bare for Younie next season.
Returning will be state all-tournament middle hitter Kaitlyn Stark. Janessa Davis returns as a good passer. “Alyssa (Swonger) and Shelby (Bender) also pass well,” Younie mentioned.
Skyline will have most of its front line back, including blocking specialist Taylor DeWeese and Swonger.
Younie characterized this year’s T-Birds as a fun, hard-working group with good attitudes. “I’ve had talented groups before,” she said, “but these girls knew their roles. We didn’t have a lot of ‘issues’. Except for the injuries it was a very smooth season.”
Page 2 of 2 - So the Skyline Thunderbirds volleyball team puts another successful season in the archives, but they are looking forward to just as good a campaign next year.
KILLS: Stark 235; Flowers 191; Davis 178; Swonger124
ACES: Bender 71; Weaver 33; Koirth 24 Flowers 24
BLOCKS: DeWeese 48; Swonger 19; Stark 16
ASSISTS: Koirth 485; Stark 272; Bender 57
DIGS+REC’S: Weaver 749; Davis 530; Flowers 491