Bobcats enter season with experienced players, rookie coach
The Basehor-Linwood High School volleyball team has most of its players returning this season, but it will be replacing a coach. Former volleyball coach Kevin Suther resigned at the end of last season and stepping in as his replacement will be Suther's assistant, Mardy Robinson.
Robinson, who also coaches girls' basketball, said she was sad to see Suther go, but she is also fired up about the challenge awaiting her.
"I'm definitely excited," Robinson said. "I was really sad to see coach Suther go, we all were, but we have most of our team coming back and we should be pretty good."
This year, BLHS's varsity squad will be led by its five seniors Briana Barron, Jamie Cochran, Kelleigh Garup, Christina McCarty and Laura Steeby. Joining the seniors with returning varsity experience will be juniors Cristin Burnett and Lindsay Cunningham. Robinson said having seven players return in her first year as coach will make the transition a lot easier for her, but that it will also help the team in terms of success.
"The experience factor will come into play especially when we get down in a match," Robinson said. "These seniors we have this year are really good leaders and they know what it takes to win."
Of the players who are returning, McCarty is the one with the most experience. As a freshman, sophomore and junior, McCarty was a starter and standout on varsity, and she said this year's team has a chance to be better than any team she's played on.
"Last year, we were pretty strong and we didn't really lose anybody," McCarty said. "So I think this year we should be even better."
Last year, McCarty made first team all-league and this year she's hoping to do the same. However, she said that winning comes first. Like Robinson, McCarty was also sad to see Suther go, but she said having Robinson take over has been an easy adjustment for the team.
"It's really been no different because she was around most of the time last year," McCarty said. "It's not that she'll be tougher than coach Suther, but I think she'll be more disciplined and I think that will help us."
Robinson agreed with McCarty that the familiarity is there, but she said this early in the season the entire team is still trying to adjust.
"We're still getting used to each other and my style of coaching," Robinson said. "But I think it's going well."
Without saying it outright, Robinson implied that her team is focused. BLHS has lost in the first round of sub-state for three straight years and the team's main goal this season is to stop that streak.
"Our goal is to perform well at sub-state and maybe make the state tournament," Robinson said. "We haven't won, even in the first game at sub-state, for at least three years and I know we'd like to end that this year."
The Bobcats will get their first crack at an opponent and their new season, Tuesday, Aug. 28, when they take on Eudora, Baldwin and Bonner Springs in Eudora.