Kenney set to be setter
During Morgan Kenney's first season as a Basehor-Linwood High School volleyball player, she played setter for the junior varsity team and spent time looking up to the player she would eventually replace.
For two years, Kenney watched as Cristin Burnett became team MVP and an All-Kaw Valley League player. But when Kenney first got there, she thought Burnett played so well she must be a senior. It wasn't until halfway through the season she found out she was actually a junior, Kenney said.
"It's going to be really hard for me to fill her shoes," Kenney said. "It's kind of stressful really. She was good at making everyone around her better and that's what a setter is supposed to do in volleyball -- make everyone around them better."
Despite the unenviable task of replacing an all-league player, Kenney said she doesn't feel overwhelming pressure entering the year.
"I wouldn't say there's going to be pressure on me this year because there will be a lot of seniors for me to lean on," she said. "We're all friends and they'll support me if I mess up, and believe me, that happens a lot.
"My freshman year I was on JV and I played with a bunch of the girls on varsity, and playing up against older girls really helped a lot. It was a good experience to play with girls that had played at the varsity level."
Kenney also has had a lot of practice with this year potential varsity team, having played with her fellow juniors since middle school.
"Volleyball is a sport where you have to know what people are doing and where they're going to be on the court," she said. "I've played with some of these girls since seventh grade, so we've been playing together a long time."
With the introduction of last year's JV coach, Lisa Phelps, as the new varsity coach, a new set of rotations will be introduced.
"The biggest challenge is going to be the new rotation coach is bringing in this year," she said. "It's going to be different as a setter because I'm going to have to learn to jump set, which is going to be something more advanced than what I've been doing.
"We'll actually be running plays and calling them by numbers on the court. For me, that means I'll need to determine what the best hit is going to be depending on where the defense is."
As Kenney has progressed from her freshman year, volleyball has become more fun as a player with the increasing difficulty and strategy.
"It's just fun ... I don't know if you can put it into words," she said. "When you get to a more advanced level, the game becomes a lot more fast-paced. It's funny because a lot of people don't know how much there is to volleyball.
"I was talking with some guy friends of mine, and they said all they thought volleyball was hitting the ball over the net. They didn't even realize there were plays and advanced techniques."
Between her new advanced role as setter in Phelps' new rotations and replacing the All-KVL Burnett, Kenney figures to be among those that will be in the spotlight on the court. But she just hopes to stay away from being the center of attention.
"Setting makes everyone else look good," she said. "I'm really not someone who wants to be the focus."