For BLHS volleyball team, expectations high after record season

BLHS sophomore Courtney Robinson participates in a serving drill during the Bobcats’ team camp last month. BLHS aims to return to the state tournament after qualifying in 2012. Enlarge photo

July 23, 2013

When you have a historic season like Basehor-Linwood’s volleyball team did last year, the offseason becomes that much more important.

The Bobcats made it to the state tournament for the first time last year and this year’s crop of girls is going to do everything it can to make it back.

“The girls who are returning to varsity this coming season definitely have much higher standards due to our successful season last year,” third-year head coach Amy Irvin said. “I have six girls returning and they know what it takes and want to push themselves and our team to get there. They will accept nothing less than success.”

The new players are getting a dose of the competitive nature from the veterans who played in that postseason, which has been a great help to Irvin. Whether or not they play varsity, the intensity has increased immensely all the way down the roster, which can only mean good things for the future.

“It has definitely increased from seasons in the past,” Irvin said, “because we now know what is possible and what we have to do to get there.”

With four key seniors from last season now gone, a balanced core of under-to-upperclassmen will fill the void.

So far this summer, junior Abbey Mellies has stepped up her vocal presence; sophomore Madi Osterhaus has developed into a morale booster during rough patches; sophomores Jaime Weible and Courtney Robinson are learning how to lead despite their youth. Robinson is the setter, which Irvin likened to a quarterback, so her leadership role will have to increase, almost by default.

Then there are seniors Allison Heinen and Hailey Robinson, who are not about to let last season become an aberration.

And this being her third year, it has been even easier for Irvin to work with players during the offseason.

Half the team has spent a majority of their careers with Irvin, so the coaching style is no longer a growth process. To help progress matters, players who didn’t play varsity last season have gained that level of experience over the summer.

The Bobcats played at Volleyfest in Shawnee earlier this month, playing against a full slate of teams, perfect for gauging progress.

They are visiting the University of Nebraska this week for a team camp and recently wrapped up summer league play.

Tryouts begin Aug. 19, which are shaping up to be more intense than years past for Basehor-Linwood.

“We have realized the amount of changes that have to be made due to losing four seniors last year,” Irvin said, “and how competitive it is going to be to make varsity this fall.”

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