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Archive for Sunday, November 24, 2002

Bulldogs record 31-10 mark, end season with trip to state tournament

November 24, 2002

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It took 31 years for Baldwin HighâÂÂs volleyball team to make a return trip to the state tournament, but donâÂÂt expect the next drought to last that long.

It wouldnâÂÂt surprise Bulldogs coach Jill Brown if the Bulldogs went to Salina again next year.

âÂÂNot at all,â she said. âÂÂWe have a good group coming back. Out of 12 players, six are coming back - most of them juniors that played this year.âÂÂ

Actually, four of BaldwinâÂÂs six starters were juniors, including All-Frontier league selections Emily Brown and Rachel Miles, along with Kari Garrison, who was honorable mention.

âÂÂJust going out and making that first step, getting to state, was huge,â Brown said.

With a 31-10 record, including one stretch where the Bulldogs won 18 straight matches, the Bulldogs were dynamite this season.

That makes it easy to place Brown and Miles on the Journal-WorldâÂÂs All-Area volleyball team, and name Brown its coach of the year.

Joining those two standouts are EudoraâÂÂs Lauren Kracl, Mill ValleyâÂÂs Kelli Wilbur, OttawaâÂÂs Jenny Heck, TonganoxieâÂÂs Vanessa Wardy and Perry-LecomptonâÂÂs Shelly Hendrix as the teamâÂÂs defensive specialist.

Emily Brown, Baldwin

A three-time all-area selection, Brown blends her size with impressive agility and smarts on the court. She was named to the all-state tournament team, and has been an All-Frontier league player the last three years. At 6-foot-2, sheâÂÂs an imposing setter, dishing 354 assists, but sheâÂÂs an even better hitter. She led the league with 411 kills, pretty much forcing Brown to run a 6-2 to take advantage of the juniorâÂÂs size.

âÂÂIâÂÂve had some people tell me we should run a 5-1,â Brown said. âÂÂIâÂÂm not sure IâÂÂm willing to give up that hitting spot.âÂÂ

Shelly Hendrix, Perry-Lecompton

Hendrix impressed so many coaches with her defensive ability, she snagged a spot as the defensive specialist of the all-area team.

An All-Kaw Valley selection, Hendrix turned sure-fire kills into easy passes for the Kawsâ setter, leading the team with 307 digs. And, at just 5-5, the sophomore led the 12-19 Kaws with 206 kills.

âÂÂSheâÂÂs incredible,â said Perry-Lecompton coach Nancy Bell, who played at Kansas University.

âÂÂShe gets everything up. (Defensively) SheâÂÂs better than most of the girls I played against in college.âÂÂ

Jenny Heck, Ottawa

An All-Huron league selection, Heck is a first-time all-area player who is solid defensively, with 230 digs, and a 90 percent passer. But the senior also plays bigger than her 5-7 frame might indicate. She tallied 168 kills, but those came far less often than Cyclones coach Jodi Grover would have liked.

âÂÂI never took her out of any game,â Grover said. âÂÂSkill wise, sheâÂÂs very good, but we just couldnâÂÂt get the ball to her enough. When we did get her, other girls turned to their coaches and said âÂÂ'I canâÂÂt stop her.âÂÂâÂÂ

Lauren Kracl, Eudora

An easy choice as a three-time all-area player, KraclâÂÂs developed into an imposing, devastating hitter. The junior, also a three-time All-Frontier League selection, was the focal point for the 19-14 Cardinals. She racked up 404 kills, five a game. SheâÂÂs so big up front, adding 69 blocks, that itâÂÂs easy to overlook her solid passing and 230 digs.

âÂÂShe was always good, but I think she doubted herself some,â Cardinals coach Jill Stuttler said. âÂÂThis year, she was more aggressive. We could flare her in, flare her out. The only time we didnâÂÂt win was when we couldnâÂÂt pass the ball. Beyond that, she dominated.âÂÂ

Rachel Miles, Baldwin

Miles had a breakout season, in which she snagged All-Frontier League honors along with her first all-area team. A 5-8 junior, she mans the middle, leading the Bulldogs with 186 blocks. SheâÂÂs not physically imposing like most middles, but Miles is as effective as anyone taller.

âÂÂShe blocks unbelievably well,â coach Brown said. âÂÂI donâÂÂt think we were that good of a blocking team this year, but when she was on the front row, we were pretty strong.âÂÂ

Vanessa Wardy, Tonganoxie

A first-time all-area selection, Wardy keyed the Chieftainsâ 25-12 season, which included nearly knocking off eventual state champ Lansing in the sub-state finals. Still, for a team that was 9-24 two years ago, Wardy represents TongieâÂÂs turnaround.

An All-Kaw Valley selection, the senior middle led the Chieftains with 223 kills and 104 blocks.

âÂÂShe was our go-to player,â Tonganoxie coach Tiffany Parker said. âÂÂIt was one of those things where if she had a good game, we were going to have a good game. And she had a good game more often than not.âÂÂ

Kelli Wilbur, Mill Valley

Wilbur, whoâÂÂs headed to Central Missouri State next year, was the Jaguarsâ most consistent player in their 16-15 season. An All-Kaw Valley selection, itâÂÂs her first all-area award. She amassed 222 kills, 43 blocks and 155 digs to go along with 22 aces. In short, she could do it all.

âÂÂSheâÂÂs an outstanding kid,â Jaguars coach David Beach said. âÂÂSheâÂÂs been an impact player for us. SheâÂÂs a great hitter and good defensive player.âÂÂ

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