The opponents lined up for Marion High School in the first week of the season weren’t the kind of teams a coach would use to pad their record with victories.
Marion lined up against Class 3A second-ranked Hoisington and Class 4A Smoky Valley on Aug. 28, then turned around two days later to square off against Moundridge, Southeast of Saline, and the top-ranked and defending state champion Hillsboro.
“It’s a good chance for us to see where we are,” Marion head coach Deanna Thierolf said going into the week.
Marion bounced back from a two-game match loss to Hoisington to get their first win of the season against Smoky Valley.
The Lady Vikings didn’t make it easy. Marion squeaked out a 25-23 win in the first game of the match, but got hammered in the second, 10-25. The Lady Warriors regained their form and took control of the third game, winning 25-18 to take the match.
“The girls played extremely hard,” Thierolf said. “They were flying around for balls, if the pass wasn’t there other girls were stepping in to make the set.”
Thierolf praised the play of several Lady Warriors.
“Julia Hall had a great night on the net. She had three stuff blocks in a row. She had an impressive first night out on varsity,” Thierolf said. “Kaelyn Thierolf had a great night hitting, and Katey Ehrlich and Kirsten Hansen did a great job setting.”
The match Thursday the Lady Warriors figured to have the best shot at winning, after only one day of rest, was the first one against Moundridge. They had full benefit of the time off, and had momentum from the Smoky Valley win.
But the enthusiasm and effort Marion put forth against Smoky Valley wasn’t there against the Lady Railers, who won the match in two games, 19-25 and 11-25.
“As a coach you’re sitting there grasping at straws. It wasn’t just one or two kids, everybody was flat,” Thierolf said. “It seemed to snowball on us. Maybe it was just too quick a turnaround.”
Southeast of Saline was next, and they had created some buzz by beating Hillsboro in their first game, though Hillsboro went on to win the match. The Purple Trojans were confident and hungry coming into their matchup with Marion.
The Lady Warriors made this match more of a contest. They lost the first game 16-25, but battled Southeast point for point until a late run by the Purple Trojans gave them the match win, 25-20.
Marion vs. Hillsboro had a David vs. Goliath storyline, but the Lady Trojans were no lumbering, overconfident giant. The Lady Warriors lost the match in two games, 15-25 and 16-25, but played well in spurts.
“They’re a doggone good team. I think they’re better this year than last year,” Thierolf said. “At times we played really well. We were getting our hands on the ball and slowed it down on blocks.”
Theirolf said she will continue to experiment with her rotation, as she is looking for the right combination of six players that will gel together.
“Our schedule was front-loaded and I knew that. We just have to stay together and fight hard for every point,” Thierolf said.
Marion had matches Tuesday on the road against Canton-Galva and Trinity Catholic of Hutchinson in Canton. Saturday the Lady Warriors will try to improve on last year’s second-place finish at the Centre Classic tournament.