With the 2014 season opener looming on Friday for the Hutchinson Community College volleyball team, third-year Blue Dragon coach Patrick Hall admittedly doesn’t have many answers about his team.
Right out of the chute on Friday, Hall’s No. 19-ranked Blue Dragons will face No. 14 Odessa College and No. 17 New Mexico Military in the NMMI Classic in Roswell, New Mexico. In fact, the first nine matches to the 2014 season will be daunting for a team with 12 new faces and just two returners.
But as the five-time Jayhawk West Coach the Year looks as his team, Hall knows he has options … multiple options. Now the job is the find that combination that will help lead Hutchinson reach the always lofty expectations that accompany this program.
“There are a lot of new pieces of the puzzle this year and right now we have just a couple of those pieces in place,” said Hall, who is 55-22 in his first two seasons at HCC. “We are still working to figure out what that picture is going to look like on the court. This team has good chemistry, but we are still a ways from figuring out what we will look like when the game starts.”
The two-time defending Region VI champion Blue Dragons will play four matches over the weekend in New Mexico. Friday’s opener with Odessa will begin at 11 a.m. (CT) and the New Mexico Military match is set to begin approximately at 7 p.m. (CT). That match will be videostreamed live via the NMMI Sports Information Department. On Saturday, HCC will close out with Yavapai at 10 a.m. (CT) and South Mountain at 1 p.m. (CT).
The Blue Dragons will then open Jayhawk West play at Colby on Wednesday and then will play No. 3 College of Southern Idaho, No. 7 Salt Lake, Snow College and 2013 NJCAA Tournament participant in North Idaho in the CSI Classic in Twin Falls, Idaho on Sept. 5-6.
The 2014 Blue Dragons are made up of two returning sophomores, two transfer players and 10 freshmen.
The two returnees are Nicole Kinser, a 6-foot-2 sophomore middle blocker, from Hugoton and Rachel Griffitt, a 5-4 libero/defensive specialist from Wamego.
Kinser was a mainstay in the middle for the Blue Dragons in 2013. She finished the season hitting .329 with 1.83 kills per set. She was third on the team with 229 kills on a team that didn’t sometimes utilize the middle as effectively as Hall would have liked. Kinser was also the 2013 Blue Dragons’ second-leading blocker with 0.78 blocks per game, totaling 97 overall blocks and 18 solo stuffs.
Griffitt played as a reserve in 31 total matches (57 sets played). She had one service ace in 49 attempts and averaged 1.53 digs per set.
The two transfers are both in-state players …Lauren Darby from Olathe and Anna Proffitt from Sterling.
Darby, an outside hitter played last season at Arkansas-Fort Smith. She played in nine matches and averaged 0.36 kills per set and hit .061 in limited action.
Proffitt, a middle/right-side hitter, actually started her collegiate career on the University of Tulsa rowing team before transferring back to Sterling College to play volleyball last season. In 19 matches before a season-ending injury, Proffitt averaged 1.59 kills per set and she hit .222. She also averaged 0.36 blocks per set.
“Last year at this time, we had only two positions that even offered us options at this time,” Hall said. “This year we have five positions that offer us options. We are competitive at all positions, but we put so many different lineups together in practice, it’s been difficult to punt one unit out there that will work well together. Having options is a good thing.
“There is a lot of potential on this team.”
Setter – Freshman Tarynn Stueder (Great Bend) has been the most consistent setter in camp for the Blue Dragons in the preseason. Other setters in camp are Morgan Little (Las Vegas) and Aubrey Wilson (Bennington).
“They are all working on their consistency and I think it will get there,” Hall said. “They are all freshman and game management issues are still at the forefront for all three of them as they try to adjust to the pace of the game.”
This is the second-straight season that Hutchinson enters a season without collegiate experience at setter.
Outside hitter – Big, big shoes will need to be filled as HCC must replace two-time Jayhawk West Player of the Year Teresa Wade – she was also a two-time NJCAA All-American – and all-conference player Dragana Micic. Those to players provided nearly 80 percent of HCC’s kills in 2013.
Several players are in the mix in 2014. Darby has the most experience at the position. Freshman Jai Chapman (Liberal) and Bailey Nickel (Scott City) are going to be in the mix as well as Petra Silic (Zagrab, Croatia), Skye Calvert (Moura, Australia) and Wilson.
Silic is also slated to be in the middle. Calvert is a middle and right-side hitter and Wilson is in the setter mix.
“It remains a fairly open position for us,” Hall said. “We have some players who are going to look like completely different players a month into the season. It will be very competitive.”
Middle hitter – All eyes will be on Kinser, who was a second-team all-Jayhawk West and All-Region selection as a freshman. HCC will have four players who are 6-feet-1 or taller with Kinser, Silic, Calvert and Proffitt.
“Nicole is looking very good and we are going to count on her,” Hall said. “We have four options to look at in the middle and other than Nicole; we aren’t sure where we will go.”
Hall is hoping to have much better blocking numbers from his middles in 2014. Last year, HCC got an average of less than one block per set out of its middles.
Right-side hitter – This was another weak position in terms of blocking last season, but the options Hall has are much taller and appear to be better at the net.
As 6-5, freshman Lexi Turner (Kaysville, Utah) has the ability to be a very strong blocker. Also in the mix on the right side will be Wilson, when she is not setting, and Proffitt.
“Lexi puts up a very strong block for us,” Hall said. “We think she, through the year and into next year, will become a stronger offensive presence,” Hall said. “Aubrey Wilson can put up a very nice block and she has a lively arm. Anna has been a big surprise for us on the right side. This is another position that is wide-open for us.”
Liberos/Defensive Specialists – Griffitt is the only one of the four back-row players with experience. She is joined by freshmen, McKenzie Steele, Maddi Cumpston and Little.
“Four people are competing for one or two position on the floor,” Hall said. “Rachel has the experience, but we have three talented freshmen. It’s going to be an interesting year in terms of our lineup.”
The Blue Dragons averaged 14.3 digs per set last season.
SEASON NOTES …
+ HCC is the preseason pick to win the Jayhawk West in 2014. The Blue Dragons start the season ranked No. 19 in the NJCAA Division I Volleyball preseason poll.
+ The 2013 Blue Dragons finished the season 27-12, sharing the Jayhawk West title with Colby. Those two teams met in the Region VI championship match, won by the Lady Dragons in three sets. HCC then dropped back-to-back straight-set losses to No. 3 Western Nebraska and No. 14 Hill College in the NJCAA Tournament at Casper, Wyoming.
+ Hall would like to see a better overall block from his 2014 team. Last year’s 257 team blocks were the fewest since 2010 and it was the only time since 2001 that an HCC volleyball team had fewer than 300 team blocks. The 1.84 blocks per set were the fewest since 1997.
+ The Lady Dragons will open the home season on Sept. 10 with a Jayhawk West match against Butler, which returned to Division I volleyball after several years competing at the Division II level. HCC will have 10-straight days at home with matches against Dodge City (Sept. 15) and Seward County (Sept. 17) before playing host to the HCC Blue Dragon Volleyball Classic on Sept. 19-20 at the Sports Arena.
+ One statistic that HCC must improve on is its record in five-set matches. HCC was 0-6 in five-setters last season, going 27-6 in matches that didn’t go five set.
(By Steve Carpenter, HCC Sports Informatin Director)
The two-time defending Region VI champion Hutchinson Community College volleyball team was ranked No. 19 in the NJCAA Division I Volleyball preseason poll released on Tuesday.
Only one starter and two players overall return from last season’s Jayhawk Conference co-championship and Region VI championship team that went 27-12 overall.
Hutchinson is the only Jayhawk West team ranked in the Top 20. Colby, the team that HCC shared the 2013 West title with and then defeated in the Region VI championship match, is one of five teams receiving votes in the preseason poll.
Hutchinson and Colby are picked 1-2 in the Jayhawk West Preseason Coaches’ Poll released last week.
The start of the 2014 regular season is Friday and Saturday for Hutchinson at the New Mexico Military Tournament in Roswell, N.M. Right off the bat, HCC will play a pair of teams in the preseason poll. HCC opens with No. 14 Odessa College and then meets No. 17 New Mexico Military on Friday. Hutchinson will close out the trip to New Mexico on Saturday with Yavapai College and South Mountain Community College.
Five Blue Dragon opponents start the season ranked in Preseason Top 20.
Hutchinson will play No. 3 College of Southern Idaho and No. 8 Salt Lake Community College in the CSI Invitational on Sept. 5-6 in Twin Falls, Idaho. Hutchinson will play No. 12 Missouri State University-West Plains twice in the West Plains Tournament and Jefferson College Tournament, both in October.
This is the second-straight season that Hutchinson has started the season ranked in the NJCAA preseason poll. Last season the Blue Dragons opened at No. 11. HCC ended the season unranked, but still reached its seventh national tournament in program history.
(HCC Sports Information)
2014 NJCAA DIVISION I
PRESEASON VOLLEYBALL POLL
1. Blinn College
2. Iowa Western CC
3. College of Southern Idaho
4. Arizona Western College
5. Tyler Junior College
6. Western Wyoming CC
7. Western Nebraska CC
8. Salt Lake CC
9. Hillsborough CC
10. San Jacinto-Central
11. Lake Land CC
12. Missouri State University-West Plains
13. Central Florida CC
14. Odessa College
15. Hill College
16. Northeastern Junior College
17. New Mexico Military Institute
18. Wallace State CC
19. Hutchinson CC
20. Temple College
Two years removed from its last league title, the Hutchinson Community College women’s soccer team is once again expected to be in the hunt for a Jayhawk Conference championship in 2014.
The Jayhawk Conference’s annual preseason coaches’ poll was released late on Monday and Hutchinson was picked to finish second in 2014 behind rival Butler Community College.
The Blue Dragons have one more preseason scrimmage on Wednesday at Northwest Oklahoma State before opening the regular season on Saturday against Western Wyoming at the Salthawk Sports Complex. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.
The Blue Dragons had won three-straight Jayhawk Conference championships from 2009 to 2011 and mixed in a pair of Region VI titles during that run. But HCC has finished second and fifth in the last two seasons and head coach Sammy Lane, 136-33-2 in his first nine seasons, is ready to guide the program back to the top run and take HCC soccer to nationals for the first time.
In the program’s first nine seasons, HCC has won three Jayhawk Conference and three Region VI titles, while appearing in all nine Region VI semifinal rounds since the team’s inception in 2005. HCC soccer has never had a losing record.
Two-time defending conference and regional champion Butler is ranked No. 3 in the NJCAA Division I preseason poll. Johnson County, picked to finish third in the conference, is ranked No. 15. Hutchinson is not in the preseason poll.
Hutchinson will face Butler at El Dorado on Oct. 17 and will play host to Johnson County on Sept. 24 at the Salthawk Sports Complex.
The remainder of the preseason poll is Barton at No. 4, Coffeyville at No. 5, Allen at No. 6, Neosho County at No. 7 and Dodge City at No. 8. The final four spots are Kansas City Garden City, Cowley and Pratt.
Six players return from last season’s 12-5 team that reached the Region VI semifinals. Among the returnees is 2013 first-team All-American and Jayhawk Conference Offensive Player of the Year, Jen Rogers, and all-conference second-team midfielder Siobhon Wilson.
(HCC Sports Information)
2014 JAYHAWK CONFERENCE
WOMEN’S SOCCER PRESEASON COACHES’ POLL
3. Johnson County
7. Neosho County
8. Dodge City
9. Kansas City
10. Garden City
The Hutchinson Community College volleyball team is expected to complete the three-peat in the Jayhawk West in 2014, according to the league’s preseason coaches’ poll released late Thursday night.
Hutchinson won the league title outright in 2012 and shared the Jayhawk West title with Colby last season. The Blue Dragons have won the last two Region VI championships.
Hutchinson and Colby were the top two teams in the preseason poll, followed by Seward County in the third slot.
Just like last season, Hutchinson and Colby will open Jayhawk Conference play against each other on Aug. 27 in Colby. The rematch will be Oct. 8 at the Sports Arena.
The Blue Dragons will play two more conference matches in 2014 as Butler returns to Division I. The Dragons and Grizzlies will be the HCC’s home opener on Sept. 10 at the Sports Arena.
Butler and Barton are tied for fourth in the preseason poll. The rest of the poll is Cloud County at No. 6, Garden City at No. 7, Pratt at No. 8 and Dodge City at No. 9.
Hutchison returns two players from last season’s 27-12 team. Third-year coach Patrick Hall will have lot of hole to fill, especially those left by two-time Jayhawk West Player of the Year and two-time All-American Teresa Wade and 2013 all-conference performer Dragana Micic.
The Blue Dragons will open the season with four matches against Odessa, New Mexico Military, Yavapai and South Mountain next Friday and Saturday at the New Mexico Military Classic in Roswell, New Mexico.
(HCC Sports Information)
JAYHAWK WEST VOLLEYBALL
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
3. Seward County
6. Cloud County
7. Garden City
9. Dodge City
The Hutchinson Community College football team will open 2014 as the No. 11 team in the nation, according to the NJCAA Preseason football, which was released on Tuesday morning.
The Blue Dragons continue a program-record run of preseason NJCAA rankings, upping that mark to six consecutive seasons. The previous record was four from 1994-97.
Hutchinson has been ranked now in seven consecutive polls and in 62 of the past 68 NJCAA football polls dating back to 2008.
Under Rhoades, who is starting his eighth season, the Blue Dragons have started the previous five seasons ranked No. 13 in 2009, No. 11 in 2010, No. 6 in 2011 and No. 10 in 2012 and No. 6 last season.
The Blue Dragons come off an 8-4 season in 2013. HCC tied for second in the Jayhawk Conference, was Region VI runner-up and won a fifth-straight Salt City Bowl victory. The 2013 Blue Dragons finished No. 18 in the final NJCAA football poll.
The 2014 Blue Dragons have nine starters (4 offense, 5 defense) and 19 lettermen (11 offense, 8 defense) returning from last season.
Offensively, the backfield will be re-tooled with a new quarterback and stable of running backs. Defensively, sophomore defensive ends Jeremiah Ledbetter and Marquavius Lewis and linebackers Claude George and Darius Wright all return. The biggest loss defensively came in the secondary, where All-American Jaylon Myers and All-Jayhawk performers Shattle Fenteng and Christian Goodlett have moved on.
The Blue Dragons were also ranked No. 11 in JC Gridiron.com’s “Dirty 30” preseason poll which was released earlier this month. HCC was picked to finish second in the Jayhawk Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Hutchinson is one of three Jayhawk Conference teams that start ranked in the preseason poll. Butler starts No. 6 and Dodge City opens at No. 17. HCC will play both teams in September, going to Butler on Sept. 13 and Dodge City on Sept. 27.
Two Blue Dragon non-conference opponents are in the poll as well. Iowa Western is ranked No. 2 and Iowa Central is receiving votes. The Blue Dragons travel to Iowa Western on Oct. 25 and play host to Iowa Central on Sept. 20.
Defending national champion East Mississippi is the preseason No. 1 pick this season. Iowa Western is No. 2 and Copiah-Lincoln is No. 3.
The Blue Dragons will open the 2014 season with two-straight home games, opening with the Bethany College JV on Thursday, Aug. 28 and Fort Scott on Saturday, Sept. 6.
The first NJCAA regular-season poll will be released on September 2.
(HCC Sports Information)
2013 NJCAA PRESEAON FOOTBALL POLL
Points 2013 Record
1. East Mississippi CC 200 12-0
2. Iowa Western CC 190 11-1
3. Copiah-Lincoln CC 180 7-2
4. Trinity Valley CC 170 10-2
5. Georgia Military College 160 11-1
6. Butler CC 150 9-2
7. ASA College 140 9-1
8. Navarro College 130 9-3
9. Mississippi Gulf Coast CC 120 8-2
10. Jones County Junior College 110 9-2
11. Hutchinson CC 100 8-4
12. Arizona Western College 90 2-10
13. Tyler Junior College 80 9-2
14. Nassau CC 70 9-2
15. Snow College 60 5-6
16. Scottsdale CC 50 10-1
17. Dodge City CC 40 6-4
18. Rochester CTC 30 10-2
19. Itawamba CC 20 6-4
20. Central Lake College-Brainerd 10 9-2
Others receiving votes – Hinds CC (7-3); Mesa CC (8-3); Iowa Central CC (6-5); New Mexico Military Institute (8-4); Dakota College at Bottineau (8-3).
at New Mexico Military
LIVE VIDEO via NMMI SID
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Bethany College JV
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