(Set)ting Up For Success

A closer look at the varsity coaching staff and players


Sara Holm

The Viking’s varsity volleyball program kicked off their 2016 season last Thursday with two matches against Mill Valley and Blue Valley West at home. They beat MV’s varsity team in two games (25-15, 25-21) and lost to BVW in two games (16-25, 15-25).

The upcoming season brings with it many changes for the varsity team and program, including being under the leadership of new head coach, Mary Hedges. Hedges brings with her an impressive background of previous coaching experiences, including coaching Shawnee Mission West from 1997-2007 and being the head coach at SM East during the 1980’s and leading them to a state victory her first year there.

However, these aren’t the only times Hedges has taken on a coaching position. She has also coached volleyball for MAVS Volleyball Club. While at West, she coached the boys’ dive and girls’ swim teams. One diver was a two-time state champion under the leadership of Hedges.

“I wasn’t really nervous at all, just extremely excited to have the opportunity to coach the girls in this program. After an 8 year lay-off from coaching, it was like riding a bike.” Hedges said.

Another addition to the program is assistant varsity coach Kelly Curry Cline. Cline, a member of the class of 2006,  played in the program under Hedges.

“We all love and miss Coach Coyle, but we’re also super excited to see where Coach Hedges and Coach Cline can take us,” varsity player Abby Briney said.

The program now has five total coaches rather than four like previous years.

“Three of the coaches, including myself are West grads, so we have a true feeling of what being a Viking means and we are all proud to be coaching at our alma mater.” Hedges said.

The team is bringing back some of its strongest players, including Camryn Blanton who received first team Sunflower Honors last season. Also returning are Maren Burkhart and Rylie Barnum, who received second team honors and Taylor Fosha, who received an honorable mention for the Sunflower Honors teams.

Along with the return of these players, a key part of the team’s success is the camaraderie they built in the previous year, and the lineup is nearly identical to last year’s.

“It’s a very relaxed atmosphere. We all get along so well, which makes things so much more enjoyable. Having 8 returners has helped our team tremendously. We know and love each other in a way that most teams don’t,” Briney said.

Coming off of a record of 27-13 and first place at the Atchison Invitational last year, the team is ready to make it another victorious season.

“Our ultimate goal is to get back to state,” says Hedges said.

Although the program hasn’t been to state since 2006, the team intends to break the 10 year streak.