By William for www.mcpherson-county-ks.com
LINDSBORG – Recent play has been spectacular for the Smoky Valley volleyball team with state tournament finishes of second and third place the past two seasons and they look to repeat the trip again in 2022.
To do so will be done with some major changes as Sharlene Ramsey stepped down as head coach and the Lady Vikings will now be led by Doug Schneider. Schneider is not new to the program as he has spent 18 previous seasons on the coaching staff, including 11 as the head coach before stepping away in 2013 after compiling a 169-164 overall record.
In 2021 the Lady Vikings finished 41-4 overall that included an 8-1 league mark. Over the past two seasons Smoky Valley volleyball as amassed a record of 75-8 but will head into the 2022 season with just three players returning of note.
Juniors Adrian Hazelwood and Hope Duncan will lead the team after both gained second team All-Central Kansas League honors in 2021 as sophomores. Hazelwood recorded 946 assists last season from the setter position while Duncan, an outside hitter, contributed 265 kills and 333 digs in 2021. Also coming back will be sophomore Katja Blanchat who put up 83 kills from the right side as a freshman.
“We are coming off back-to-back state tournament seasons where we finished in the top-three both seasons,” noted coach Schneider during his preseason reflections. “Having setter Adrian Hazelwood and outside hitter Hope Duncan back will be a big help while Katja Blanchat had some outstanding moments as a freshman in 2021. We plan to move Katja from the right side to a middle hitter position this fall in hopes of her having a breakout season.”
According to coach Schneider, the Lady Vikings will be strong in their quickness and athleticism while needing to fine tune blocking and defense for 2022 to be a success.
Besides the three notable returnees, Smoky Valley will have six seniors and three juniors who will look to step up and fill out the lineup.
Schneider concluded his preseason reflections by saying, “The Lady Vikings will have several positions that need to be filled due to graduation of some very solid seniors in 2021. A number of players are poised to step up and fill those slots.”
The Lady Vikings will open the 2022 season on Saturday, August 27 at the Central Kansas League pre-season tournament in Pratt before hitting the regular schedule on Thursday, September 1 at a quad in Abilene with Abilene, Thomas More-Prep and Concordia.
2022 LADY VIKINGS VOLLEYBALL
- Junior Adrian Hazelwood – 2nd team All-Central Kansas League
- Junior Hope Duncan – 2nd team All-Central Kansas League
- Sophomore Katja Blanchat
Notables to Watch:
- Seniors – Aspen Chaney, Addy Ellis, Kenzie Franklin, Madison Oakes, Noelle Peters, and Maggie Ryals.
- Juniors – Avery Ahlstedt, Breanne Peters, and Tinley Scott.
2022 LADY VIKING VOLLEYBALL SCHEDULE:
- Saturday, August 27 – at Pre-Season Central Kansas League Tournament in Pratt
- Thursday, September 1 – at Abilene Quad with Thomas More-Prep & Concordia
- Tuesday, September 6 – at Hays Triangular with Nickerson
- Saturday, September 10 – at Southeast of Saline Tourney in Gypsum
- Tuesday, September 13 – Host Triangular with Lyons & Hillsboro
- Thursday, September 15 – At Ellinwood Triangular with Haven
- Tuesday, September 20 – at Cheney Triangular with Hoisington
- Tuesday, September 27 – at Haven Triangular with Larned
- Tuesday, October 4 – Host Triangular with Southeast of Saline & Halstead
- Thursday, October 6 – at Central Plains Triangular in Claflin with Ellsworth
- Tuesday, October 11 – at Pratt Triangular with Hesston
- Saturday, October 15 – at Abilene Tournament
- Tuesday, October 18 – Host Triangular with Nickerson & Chapman
- Saturday, October 22 – at Sub-State
- Friday, October 28 & Saturday, October 29 – at State Tournament in Hutchinson
(William is a free-lance writer covering McPherson County Activities – he can be reached at email@example.com)