Offensive improvements in store of BHS volleyball squad
Offensive production was a weakness last year, but Baldwin High School volleyball coach Kelly Brown is hoping it will be a strength of her team this fall.
Added height, experience and some line up adjustments have Brown ready to begin the season Tuesday evening.
"We were so great defensively last year, but we didn't have much offense," Brown said. "We had some smaller hitters. This year we moved some people around and we're looking for some underclassmen to step up and play some roles."
The Bulldogs will play Basehor-Linwood, Bonner Springs and Eudora Tuesday at Basehor-Linwood. The matches begin at 5 p.m. Senior Alex Bergan is ready to start the season, especially against the rival Cardinals.
"It will be fun," Bergan said of starting the season. "The Eudora game will be intense, like always. We are ready to get out there and play."
One year ago, the Bulldogs won four of 39 matches. Part of that was because of lack of height and offense, according to Brown.
She hopes her team has improved vastly in those areas this fall. But she knows that isn't the only improvement the Bulldogs need from a year ago.
"We will be a major improvement from last year," Brown said. "We have some hitters and offense that we didn't have last year. We will have a solid defense with some blockers, too. The girls are ready to play. They are definitely hungry for some wins and, hopefully, we can give that to them."
The Bulldogs will be looking to their seniors and juniors for leadership this fall. Bergan and fellow senior Callie Craig will be the setters for the Bulldogs.
Brown said both players have been practicing well so far in the early season.
"I've definitely been impressed so far," Brown said. "We are going to be an offensively sound team. We are going to have some great hitters. We have senior setters that will lead us in Alex Bergan and Callie Craig. We will look to them for a lot of senior leadership."
Another senior that Brown will be looking to is Ashley Tucker. She is a middle hitter that has improved a lot from last year, according to Brown.
"Ashley will start out middle front for us," Brown said. "Ashley has made big improvements this year. She has worked hard in the offseason."
BHS will also have two juniors that have played significant time on the varsity level. Olivia Catloth and Haley Finucane should provide some leadership and quality playing time.
Catloth has moved to an outside hitter this fall, while Finucane has moved to the libero spot. Brown is confident their new positions will work well.
"We've got some strong juniors," Brown said. "Olivia Catloth is going to try some outside hitting this year. She has worked hard on changing her approach and looks great from the outside. Haley Finucane will be our starting libero. She has quick feet and knows the game very well."
Brown is also calling up two freshmen, Lyndsey Lober and Ramie Burkhart, to the varsity team. She is hoping both make a splash for the Bulldogs this fall.
"We are also going to look to two freshmen this year," Brown said. "Ramie is a lefty that will play on the right side. Lyndsey will hit outside for us. It's nice to have that size at this level."
Brown will be able to see how well her team works together on Tuesday night. She remembers the Bulldogs nearly came away with two victories from the quad last fall.
"Last year, we beat Bonner on opening night and played a great game against Basehor," Brown said. "We should do very well against those two teams. Eudora is always going to be a tough match. They have strong upperclassmen that are still playing."
The excitement of the first matches has Bergan anxiously awaiting Tuesday.
"Next week will be really exciting," Bergan said. "It will be interesting to see how everything goes, but I think everything will begin to click and Tuesday will be a really good night for us."
Catloth is even a little nervous for the opening matches.
"It seems like we have more talent this year, so hopefully we can go a little further this year," Catloth said. "I am getting a little nervous, but I am ready to see how it goes."
The Bulldogs only have one home triangular, which is on Sept. 18. However, BHS will be hosting the Baldwin Invitational Sept. 8 and the Frontier League tournament Oct. 13.
"It's very exciting," Bergan said of the season. "I am ready to play and do well. Hopefully, we can get a few more wins than last year."