Four Abilene High School Cowgirl volleyball players will help lead Cowgirl volleyball through the transition year of a head coach change. Former Abilene Middle School Longhorn volleyball coach Jade Koch is at the helm after 31 years of Mike Jantz’s leadership. Jantz retired at the end of the last school year.
Koch, who guided the eighth grade Longhorns to six North Central Kansas League titles in the last 11 seasons, inherits a versatile and accomplished volleyball squad.
“The girls have shown a lot of eagerness towards the upcoming season,” Koch said. “They are excited to be trying different scenarios and have been dedicated to the team by playing in summer league and working hard at weights and open gyms this summer. We have great senior leadership with our four returners and we have a lot of young talent as well.”
Leading the way for the Cowgirls in 2019 will be seniors Beth Holmes, Chesney Sprinkle, Makenna McGivney and Olivia Howie. All four played multiple sets for the Cowgirl varsity last year with Holmes and Sprinkle returning as starters.
Holmes returns at setter after an honorable mention NCKL season a year ago. She finished 13th in the league in serving percentage at 95.3 percent. She was in the top 25 in the league in serving aces and she was in the conference in hitting percentage while finishing second in the league for assists at 889.
“Beth is a role model on and off the court and has shown leadership with her commitment,” Koch said.
Sprinkle returns at middle blocker/hitter where she finished second in the conference in blocks with 36. She was also second in the league in serving percentage at 98.6 percent and she had 204 kills.
“Chesney is strong in the middle and makes big plays when the team needs them,” the coach said. “She has a great swing and has great placement making her an asset on the front row.”
McGivney should take over from three-year starter Turner Alderson at Libero. McGivney played as a designated server last year and finished 18th overall with serve receive passing efficiency at 89.47 percent.
“McKenna will be another strong senior leader who stays positive and exhibits the qualities of a positive role model on and off the court,” Koch said.
Finally Howie should work into the rotation as a setter. She had some valuable minutes resting Holmes a year ago.
“Olivia is another positive senior role model,” Koch said. “She has a really great float jump serve that will help the team this year.”
Also returning to the team are sophomore outside hitter Jenna Hayes, sophomore middle blocker Emma Wildman, junior outside hitters Autumn Fitzgerald and Reagan Ditto. Hayes started for the Cowgirls as a freshman while Wildman, Fitzgerald and Ditto all saw varsity action.
Hayes finished seventh in blocks with 17 and she was in the top 25 in kills with 97 as a first year varsity player. She played the right side last year, but will be a strong outside hitter for the Cowgirls according to the head coach.
“Jenna is very consistent and takes care of the ball,” Koch said.
Wildman returns at middle blocker. She only played varsity in 64 of 89 sets but still finished third overall in the league with 35 blocks. Koch said that she has a huge block and is unafraid to try different things.
Fitzgerald returns as an outside hitter that saw action in 69 sets a year ago. She finished in the top of the league in serving and with an ace percentage of 15.6. She also ranked high in the conference in kills with 143 and serve receive percentage of 90.24.
“Reagan Ditto will be an asset for the team this year,” Koch said. “She is extremely athletic, can jump out of the gym and has a lot of power on the outside attack.”
Koch said the Cowgirls would be working on speeding up their game and having a faster offense. In order to so, they have to improve on their passing accuracy, a thing that sometimes failed them a year ago. She also mentioned the team will be working on defense in order to provide more opportunities for the front row.
‘These girls understand that in order to be successful, they have got to work together and use their individual strengths together to be a stronger team,” Koch said. “I expect the girls to strive to get better everyday in practice and I expect the girls to show up for every game to play and ready to give 100 percent. I expect the girls to compete aggressively every single time they are on the court.”
The Cowgirls will debut at home on Sept. 5 with the Abilene Quad. It will be the first game for the Koch era of Cowgirl volleyball.
Contact Ron Preston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cowgirl Volleyball 2019
Sept 5 AHS Quad
Sept 10 at Concordia
Sept 14 at SES Tournament
Sept 21 at Rossville Tournament
Sept 26 vs. Chapman
Oct 1 vs. Clay Center
Oct 3 at Hays Triangular
Oct 8 at Wamego
Oct 12 at Council Grove Tourn.
Oct 15 vs. Marysville
Oct 19 AHS Tournament
Oct 26 at Sub-State – TBD
Nov 1 – 2 at State – Hutchinson