Archive for Thursday, July 31, 2008

Former players give back to BSHS volleyball

July 31, 2008

The second protege of volleyball coach Shirley Vaughn's 1984 state championship team at Bonner Springs High School most likely will be Kerri Jennings Palmberg, to be the head coach of BSHS this fall. In covering high school volleyball for years, in my opinion, Kerri was the unsung hero on that 1984 team. She was one of the six super starters on Vaughn's team that won every game of every match in the sub-state and state playoffs in 1984.

Kerri currently is a physical education teacher at BSHS, where she has coached from time to time. She also has been the assistant softball coach at St. Thomas Aquinas High School for the past 14 years.

Kristi Hoffine was the other member of the state team that was also a head coach replacing Vaughn after her resignation. Kerri - who has always been a great competitor in playing and coaching besides being a member of the state volleyball team - also starred in softball and was a member of the basketball team. She was the type of player that every coach was proud to have around as she was very versatile in all parts of the game.

On the great state team of 1984, Kerri was one of the better defensive players and always served better than 90 percent at the serve line. She never hesitated to hit the floor in trying to keep the ball in play and had floor burns to show for her competitiveness. The thing that made this team so great was the ability of Vaughn to obtain the necessary chemistry for the team to jell. Down at the state tournament in 1984, the Bravettes lost their only match in pool play to McPherson but bounced back in the championship round to avenge the loss and win the school's first volleyball championship.

The Bravettes were blessed with a tandem of good hitters. Kathy Bates and Jean Mills both were named on the all-state team. They were even more effective because they had an exceptional setter in Kristi Finley to get them the ball.

The final game of the championship match went down to the wire with Jean getting the kill on a set by Kristi for the match point.

Kerri certainly has a big challenge in getting Bravette volleyball anywhere close to the 1984 team's level. Vaughn probably has been the most successful coach in getting a BSHS team to the state playoffs. Her squads made five trips and returned home with one state title, two third-place trophies and a fourth-place finish. Vaughn's last team to make it to state was in 1990.

In my opinion, it speaks pretty well of a program where players have come back to coach the sport. High school sports have changed quite a bit in recent years with the majority of the successful teams participating in summer sports. In fact, some schools more or less have a policy that if you don't attend a summer camp you do not go out for the high school team. One problem for summer competition is the high financial cost which can range from $500 to $1,500. And this is for all a varsity letter.

One problem Kerri may face is building a strong middle school program. The desire has to be there for a player to be successful. I believe with her enthusiasm and avid interest in the sport, Kerri will be a great coach for BSHS.

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