BY RUSTY WHITCHER
Before the season kicked off, Hesston College volleyball coach Jessica Cleveland was excited about her talent across the board. After opening the season with back to back wins over both Friends University and Kansas Wesleyan University’s junior varsity squads, Cleveland probably can’t wait until the next match.
Hesston dispatched Friends’ JV 25-14, 25-19 and 25-19 before sending Kansas Wesleyan back to Salina with a 25-15, 25-19, 25-12 thumping in action on Aug. 22.
“Overall, I'm pleased with the day,” Cleveland said. We are already ahead of how we ended last year. In the spring we worked on speeding up the offense and it was fun to see during the matches. We have talent and depth at all positions. Karli Rodriguez stepped her game up in hitting, something we have been working on all spring. Christy Swartzendruber had a strong start with a double double (double digits kills and double digit digs).”
Perhaps it was some opening game butterflies but the Falcons jumped out to a quick 8-3 lead in the first set. After settling down, Hesston finished by outscoring the visitors 22-6 the rest of the way. Friends again built a 4-0 lead in the second set before the Larks took control for the second set victory. Outside of the very first point the Larks led the entire way for the 3-0 victory.
“We did have some opening jitters against Friends,” Cleveland said. “They are a very loud team with their large roster. I think it got to our heads a little. We were playing out of system for a while until we started getting in rhythm. Once we got in rhythm and served aggressively it was smooth sailing from there.”
Hesston never trailed in the first set victory against Kansas Wesleyan in the second match of the triangular. In the second set, the Coyotes battled for the first half before the Larks pulled away to secure the victory. The floodgates opened in the third set and the Larks cruised.
“KWU was a fun match to get everyone into to show off with high confidence,” Cleveland said. Everyone played to expectation and swung away offensively. It's fun to have big hitters at the net this season.”
“I think it is very important to come out with a bang,” Sophomore Jacey Guy said. “Not only to make our fans proud but just to prove to ourselves as a team that we can come together, work together, bond together, and dominate the court, especially in our own house. The tone we need to have or that we will have is to be confident but not cocky. We can't expect to just come out and win automatically. We need to realize that just because we won in three matches last time we can't let up on the next opponent.”
Hesston returns to action with a 6:30 p.m. date with the Thunderbirds of Cloud County Community College on Friday, Aug. 28. The Larks also host Kansas City Kansas Community College on Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 6:30 p.m.