EDEN HIEBERT READY TO MAKE 2019 HER OWN

Eden Hiebert pancakes a ball during the first workout of the 2019 season for the Blue Dragons on Thursday at the Sports Arena. (Steve Carpenter/Blue Dragon Sports Information)
Eden Hiebert pancakes a ball during the first workout of the 2019 season for the Blue Dragons on Thursday at the Sports Arena. (Steve Carpenter/Blue Dragon Sports Information)

By Steve Carpenter
Blue Dragon Sports Information Director

Sometimes a successful sibling can cast a long and uncomfortable shadow to a younger brother or sister.

Ask Eden Hiebert … she can tell that story as well as any Hutchinson Community College athlete ever.

When Eden took the Sports Arena court for the first practice of her freshman season last year with the Blue Dragon volleyball team, she could see the shadow of her older sister, Page.

"I personally put a lot of pressure on myself (last year)," said Eden, who started her sophomore season on Thursday with Hutchinson's first 2019 practice at the Sports Arena. "I didn't necessarily feel that pressure from

others. Me personally, I definitely did put pressure on myself because she is my older sister.

I didn't want to be seen as a little sister. I wanted to be my own person."

Just the year before Eden became a Blue Dragon, Page was Hutchinson's go-to player on the 2017 Region VI championship team. Page was a second-team All-American. She posted the third-most kills in Blue Dragon single-season history in 2017 (584) and had the second-best kills-per-set average at 4.10 kills per set.

There were bound to be comparisons between the sisters, both who played for small-school power Goessel High School and both who played the same position – outside hitter.

"It would be a unique person not to feel the pressure Eden did last year," said Blue Dragon head volleyball coach Patrick Hall, who began his seventh season on Thursday. "On top of all that, being a semi-local player, it's inescapable. It's hard on a kid that age to avoid the comparisons."

Now to say that Eden had a bad freshman season would be wrong. There were many bright spots despite an early-season injury that slowed her progress.

Eden was second on the 2019 Blue Dragons – who finished 19-16 overall and lost in the Region VI Tournament championship match to Seward County – with 281 kills. She averaged 2.28 kills per set and hit .172. She had a career-best 16 kills twice – against Barton on August 29 and at Colby on September 12.

She had 13 matches with 10 or more kills and eight matches hitting .300 or better

But Eden expected more … much more.

"Coming in, I was wondering if people were going to compare me to her," Eden said. "Coach Hall never did. The players never did. I wish I would have come in (last year) with a more confident and aggressive attitude. If I would have come in with that attitude right away, I think I would have gotten better, faster."

Eden will be just one of three returning sophomores for the 2019 Blue Dragons. Setter Eboni Sapien and outside hitter Lauren Willson are the others.

When Eden stepped onto the court Thursday for the first practice of her sophomore season, there was no shadow of her older sister. And the confidence and attitude she wished she had last year, she possessed on Thursday.

"It felt different than last year," she said. "I'm a lot more comfortable today. I'm really excited about this season."

The Blue Dragons will open the 2019 season on August 23 and 24 at the New Mexico Military Institute Tournament in Roswell, NM.