NO. 17 BLUE DRAGON VOLLEYBALL AT NMMI CLASSIC
When: Friday-Saturday, August 24-25
Where: Roswell, NM
Friday – 1 p.m. CT: Pima
Friday – 7 p.m. CT: Odessa
Saturday – 9 a.m. CT: No. 11 Panola
Saturday – 2 p.m. CT: New Mexico Military
Video: New Mexico Military match only
Hutchinson CC Sports Information
Three weeks of preparation get put into motion this weekend as the No. 17-ranked Hutchinson Community College volleyball team starts down a road that the Blue Dragons hope return them right back to the Salt City in November.
The Blue Dragons open the 2018 season with four matches at the New Mexico Military Institute Invitational in Roswell, New Mexico.
Hutch will take on Pima at 1 p.m. and Odessa at 7 p.m. on Friday, and then face No. 11 Panola at 9 a.m. and host NMMI at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
The Blue Dragons 27-14 a year ago, start the season ranked No. 19 in the preseason NJCAA Division I rankings and are the preseason pick to win the Jayhawk West.
Beginning his seventh season at the helm of the Blue Dragon Volleyball program, head coach Patrick Hall will have plenty of holes to fill from last season's Region VI championship team, including 2017's leading setter (Katie Jorn), top offensive threat (Page Hiebert) and middle hitter (Tatyana Ndekwe). All three of those players have moved onto Division I programs.
Back are five sophomores, two of which had significant time last season.
"We are pretty young this year," said Hall, who is 168-71 with the Blue Dragons. "We don't return any hitters from last year, which is unusual. We return five sophomores, two who are DS/L's and two who were injured and didn't play much.
"Not having returning hitters on the court will put a little pressure on us this year on the court, but will be alleviated somewhat by our defense. We will have to predicate our success early on the defensive end and build on our offense."
All-Jayhawk West libero Raychel Reed (Aurora, CO) is a returning starter, who averaged a team-high 4.16 digs per set last season. Defensive specialist Claira Creach (Mission, KS) also saw a lot of action. She averaged 2.27 digs per game.
Lexi Hogan (Garden City, KS) hit .167 and had 0.92 kills and 0.46 blocks per set.
"I think we are really focused," Hogan said. "Being as sophomore and experiencing the game last year, I think we have a lot of potential this year. I'm excited the conference will be better this year, because that will push us to be better. I'm really excited for the season."
Eden Hiebert (Goessel) hopes to take over where her sister, Page, left off last season. Hiebert is a 5-foot-11 outside hitter. Also on the outside are Lauren Willson (5-8, Tonganoxie) and Tara Davis (5'10, South Hutchinson).
Northwest College transfer Elena Takova will join Crites and Hogan on the right side.
"Right now we are just focused on our side of the net," Hall said.
The Blue Dragons will open at the Sports Arena and open Jayhawk West play on Wednesday when the Barton Cougars come to the Sports Arena for a 6:30 p.m. match.
The Dragons will once again play one of the nation's toughest schedules with several ranked teams from outside the Jayhawk Conference. The Blue Dragons will again play host to the Blue Dragon Volleyball Classic on Sept. 21 and 22.