The Marion High School volleyball season ended with a 25-11 and 25-13 loss to No. 2 seed Hillsboro in the first round of sub-state Saturday in Halstead.
The Warriors’ game was thrown off by the Trojans powerful serving and hitting. Marion pieced together flurries of sharp passing and blocking but could never mount any type of consistent attack.
“We were on defense way too much today,” head coach Deana Thierolf said.
The loss to Hillsboro obscured what had been a season of improvement for the Warriors. Although they finished the year with a losing record, 14-23, Thierolf pointed to third-place finishes in the Centre and Marion Spikefest tournaments as positive moments to remember. She said the team played its best volleyball Oct. 2 at the Moundridge quad, picking up victories over Berean and Moundridge.
“We dominated against Moundridge and Berean,” Thierolf said. “We closed the year with an exclamation point.”
It was Thierolf’s first year as head coach, and she thought the team responded favorably to her instruction. She said the team’s commitment was exemplified in conditioning this summer.
“That’s one thing you can’t doubt,” Thierolf said. “They give 110 percent every day.”
The team loses three seniors — hitters Montana Percell and Briana Hall and back row player Balee Shiplet. Percell and Hall were both starters.
“I want to thank them for being good teammates and good leaders,” Thierolf said.
Thierolf added that the contribution provided by Shiplet, working hard in practice in spite of few minutes of game time was more valuable than the reserve player may even realize.
The Warriors will have a strong nucleus of seniors next year, including starters Kaelyn Thierolf, Katey Ehrlich, and Megan Richmond. Coach Thierolf said that she is blessed with two talented setters, Ehrlich and freshman Kristen Hansen.
She said there are current juniors — Julia Hall and Kelli Hess, for examples — she is looking to step into roles as hitters next season. Thierolf looks to use a solid foundation of consistent passing to buoy the Warrior offense.
“We’re going to get better,” Thierolf said.