Analysis: Volleyball can only go up from here

New season holds another adventure for program

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Alyssa Clark

Ready for the serve in a match against the Allen Eagles Oct. 15, junior Callie Kieffer, sophomore Kennedy Smith and senior Hayley Harrington wait. The Prosper Volleyball team is ranked 60th in the nation according to MaxPreps. “Senior night last night was one to remember,” senior Kamryn Vanatta said. “I will never forget this team and all of the memories created here in the PVB program.”

Alyssa Clark, Executive Opinion Editor

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Varsity volleyball’s road to state ended on Nov. 9 in the regional championship against the Hebron Hawks. The girls ended being No. 4 in district with an overall score of 29-13 according to MaxPreps. They were named area champions, and their season had amazing wins and loses – ending in an overall 69% win rate.

The consistent coaching of head coach Erin Kauffman has been one of the factors of the team’s success. Kauffman is now heading into her ninth year at Prosper with the ’22-’23 season.

Last year, the team was 17-4, with an overall 81% win rate. With less games in the season last year, the average’s had been skewed, and the comparison between the two seasons is hard to match.

How Next Season Will Go

After winning a set, the team crowds together to celebrate at a match versus Allen Oct. 15. The team won both the second and third sets – 25-22. “Allen was a tough opponent,” senior Kendall Hewitt said. “I’m so proud of the girls for fighting the entire game – especially the underclassmen, who really stepped up.” (Alyssa Clark)

Fans have no reason to worry the next season is bright. The volleyball team has been on a continuous rise since their state win in 2017, and next year looks to be a progressive step in that aspect. Some of the key players for next year have huge shoes to fill, but their stats don’t lie, and another great season is on the horizon for the program.

The juniors are going to soar in their senior season, and there’s going to be eight senior players. Named the highest national hitter earlier this year, junior Ella Chaney is going to be one of the most important roles to securing a powerful season next year. She’s one of the strongest hitters the team has, hitting an average of .398 for this season. Junior Callie Kieffier towers over the national average in assists, and she’s a powerful setter for the team. However, junior Brianna Martin is not a player to overlook. Another player with a high endurance, she hit over 110 sets played this year, while also having 416 service receptions. Junior Lauren Evans racks high points in hitting percentage at .390. Defensive specialists Kenzie Johnson and Daylin Smith are going to hold the team up in securing the hitters strong passings. Junior Alanna Strittmatter ranked at .214 in hitting percentages this year, and junior Maycee Varney hit .232 on hitting percentage.

All these girls are only going to grow and expand their talent from here.

For the sophomores, they get even more time to shine on this team. With five sophomores on the team, these younger players are going to carry the legacy left by this graduating class and the next. Sophomore Allie Duitsman plays as an outside hitter, and she brings power to the court. Even as a sophomore, she played all four sets in the regional championship game against Hebron. Her endurance is key to playing a consistent game for the future seasons she’ll play. One of the keys to the defensive, sophomore Kennedy Smith is essential to highlight. Her work as a libero for the team shows in her digs’ stats, where she hits 142 digs for the season. One of the most versitile players, sophomore Ayden Ames is a powerhouse – and it doesn’t matter if she’s a middle back or outside hitter. Her kills are no match for the national average – she ranks at 455 kills for this season. In the regional Hebron game alone, she had 15 kills. Sophomore Reese Renfrow had 107 kills, and, rising as an outside hitter, sophomore Sydney Thornton dominates in all her stats, her most impressive being her triple blocks at 58 for the season – and block solos at 58 as well.

Future of Current Seniors

Standing together, seniors Kendall Hewitt and Jazzlyn Ford join head varsity coach Erin Kauffman, as well as seniors Kamryn Vanatta and Hayley Harrington. The Prosper Eagles won the second and third set of a game against the Allen Eagles, which was also Senior Night. “I know you (the underclassmen) hear this all the time, but high school truly passes by in the blink of an eye,” Hewitt said. “Go out and make as many memories as you can. Savor every single moment – good or bad.” (Alyssa Clark)

There’s currently four seniors on the team. Kendall Hewitt, Jazzlyn Ford, Kamryn Vanatta and Hayley Harrington have all had their special spotlight and effect on the team’s overall season – past and present.

Ford had her signing day Nov. 10, as she committed to Indiana State University to be apart of their D1 volleyball program. Her soaring stats – including her 750 assists – prove how she’ll be a huge use for the Sycamore offensive.

“She leads by example, she’s a quiet leader,” Kauffman said about Ford at her signing day. “She is the ultimate volleyball player. We are going to miss her immensely, she’s brought a lot to this program. But we are so excited that she is playing at the next level.”

Hewitt has definitely left her legacy on the Prosper volleyball team. Ending this season with 40 triple blocks and 318 kills, Hewitt has been a powerhouse, and those plays will be missed.

Harrington also brought the defensive to a new level. Hitting over 430 service receptions, she was able to bring great plays and passes for any set.

Last, but not certainly not least, Vanatta is head-strong player that radiates a power on the court. Ranking at 257 digs, Vanatta is a fireball of an outside hitter. Her consistency will be a trait only few can carry on.

Overview

While the whole team is one of the best volleyball teams in the state, there’s always going to be room for improvement. The current seniors will be missed, but the team is still rebuilding after the loss of nine seniors last season. Next year will be a hard goodbye to the loss of eight seniors, but we have a whole season before that to cheer them on. Prosper Volleyball is on a path to success, thanks to fearless leading from Coach Kauffman and others, effortless talent from the current seniors and the determination from the players on the team next year.