After finishing last year with a 40-4 overall record, South Central High School head volleyball coach Cindy Snyder said her team this year will include some youth.
“From that team last year that went to state, out of the eight girls I played, I only have three returning, so we're pretty young this year in several positions,” Snyder said. “I lost my setter who was a big part of our team who ran the show for me, but I have two young girls that have stepped up this summer that have done really well with it.”
The Timberwolves went to Wichita State’s team camp this summer, and Snyder said she thinks the team grew a lot, as well as made some need adjustments, and that’s left her thinking the team will continue to be competitive into this year, having made it all the way to the 1A State Championship match before losing to Centralia last year.
While youth is a central concern, it isn’t the only one.
“We're not as tall as we've been,” Snyder said. “We've been usually a pretty good blocking team and we don't have an extreme lot of height this year, so we've had to make a lot of changes and really focus more on our defensive game which is a very strong asset with this group of girls I have. They defend well, pass well and serving's another thing we do very well at.”
That youth is hardly alone though. The team returns three all-state players in their senior class.
They’ll rely heavily on those three.
"I'm gonna rely on all three of 'em. Two of 'em are hitters and the third one is my Libero, so all three have key positions,” Snyder said. “I think all three will do a great job. All three have different personalities: One's real quiet, one's a little more vocal and all of them bring a pretty good aspect to the team that I think will help tremendously."
The team played in a tournament in Wichita this summer, which included some big schools such as 5A Bishop Carroll, a school with 898 ninth, 10th and 11th grade students as of Sept. 30, 2017, according to the Kansas State High School Activities Association website.
For perspective, South Central, according to the same source, had all of 67 students in the same grades on the same date.
Despite the bigger competition, Snyder said the team competed well, and even may have gained some confidence.
"I think it opened a lot of girls' eyes that oh hey we could compete with these girls even though we're not as tall as some of of 'em,’” Snyder said.
That could prove critical, because the Timberwolves’ league is the Southern Plains - Iroquois Activities Association, which includes the likes of Spearville, Kiowa County and Fowler, the later two of which made it to state in 2017 also.
With all the youth on this year’s team, there might be a few bumps along the way this season, Snyder said, but by the end of it, she said she thinks the Timberwolves should be back up in the top three within their league again.