KEARNEY — Kearney Catholic had great success last season, going 33-5 in the regular season before falling in the C1 class championship volleyball game against Lincoln Lutheran.
Despite losing three seniors upon graduation, the sky’s the limit for the Stars in 2022.
“This summer we had great chemistry and we have so much fun together,” said senior defensive specialist Jenna Kruse. “I’m excited to see how close we can get.”
Last season, the team’s mantra was “expectations,” building on the program’s prestigious tradition of raising everyone’s standards of play and what teammates expect of each other.
“We know what Kearney Catholic’s past has been and we want it to continue,” said junior outside striker Margaret Haarberg. “Let these young girls know what is possible and raise them to keep this tradition alive.”
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This season’s mantra is yet to be decided, but the team are willing to change it over the course of the year, perfect for a group that needs to roll with the punches with newcomers entering the starting spots.
“I love being competitive and I love all the challenge that comes with it,” said head coach Kris Conner. “Whether I have six returning starters or just a few. I like to reenact what we need to do to be the best of us.
Kruse is the only senior on the team and will be the defensive leader. She wanted to switch to libero, but the coach thinks the defensive specialist is the best place for her, with Kruse ready to fill the role to help the team.
Haarberg gained valuable experience last season and earned the role of attacking leader for 2022.
Filling the open roles, junior Callie Squiers switched from middle blocker to setter, and junior Aibrey Mandernach switched from middle blocker to outside hitter. Mandernach is expected to co-pilot the attack alongside Haarberg.
Although both girls are 6ft tall, the middle won’t lose height, with 6ft 2in junior Londyn Carnes taking on the role of middle tackle, and 5-7 sophomore middle tackle Payton Dzingle also attracted the praise from his teammates.
The area Conner sees as having the most room for improvement is defending and receiving serves, which will likely make the difference between a solid season and an amazing one.
This season, the Stars are looking forward to a rematch with Lincoln Lutheran, a budding rivalry. Despite Lutheran dropping to C2, the teams will likely face off in the Centennial Conference tournament.
The C1 teams Conner highlighted were Grand Island Central Catholic, St. Paul, Minden and Sidney.
The team opens its season at home against Columbus Scotus on Thursday.