MANY NEW FACES MAKE UP 2019 HUTCH VOLLEYBALL

Blue Dragon volleyball freshman Eden Hiebert is creating her own path playing for the Blue Dragons this season. (Bre Rogers/Blue Dragon Sports Information)
Sophomore outside hitter Eden Hiebert and the Blue Dragon volleyball team open the 2019 season on Friday at the NMMI Classic in Roswell, NM
Information Box

BLUE DRAGON VOLLEYBALL

Hutchinson at New Mexico Military Classic

When: Friday/Saturday, August 23-24
Match 1 vs. Pima – Friday at 4 p.m. CT
Match 2 vs. New Mexico Military – Friday, at 8 p.m. CT
Match 3 vs. South Mountain – Saturday at 11 a.m. CT
Match 4 vs. Odessa – Saturday at 3 p.m. CT
Where: Roswell, NM
Video: NMMI Match only via NMMI Athletics
Twitter: @bluedragonsport

By Steve Carpenter
Blue Dragon Sports Information Director

One of the realities of junior college athletics is that there are certain years teams will have very few returning sophomores.

Hutchinson Community College head volleyball coach Patrick Hall has one of "those" years as the 2019 regular season opens for the Blue Dragons on Friday and the New Mexico Military Classic in Roswell, NM.

"What best describes our team this year going into the season is 11 freshmen," said Hall who begins his eighth season and has posted a record of 187-87 at Hutchinson. "We've never had 11 freshmen before. We have our three returning sophomores, so that's dictating to the pace of practice to the structure of our offense. With 11 freshmen, we have a lot of questions position-wise.

"It's a learning process, but we have a lot of talent on the court. We want to be at our best at the end of October."

The Blue Dragons open this weekend with Pima, New Mexico Military, South Mountain and Odessa while in Roswell. Hutchinson will have its home opener on Friday, August 30 against Dodge City at 6:30 p.m.

Of the three sophomores, only outside hitter Eden Hiebert saw a lot of playing time last season. Hiebert played in all 35 matches last season. She had 279 total kills last season, averaging 2.34 kills per set with a .186 attack percentage. Hiebert also averaged 0.39 blocks per set.

Also back are setter Eboni Sapien and defensive specialist/libero Lauren Willson, who makes a position change from outside hitter as a freshman.

"There is a lot of potential in the gym," Hiebert said. "Everyone is willing to work hard this year. They are very coachable. We are really excited this year."

For Sapien, whose role will increase into being the No. 1 setter in the Blue Dragons' 6-2 formation. In 62 sets played last season, Sapien averaged 3.27 assists per set. She said her transition to the No. 1 slot is a work in progress.

"Confidence is something I've struggled with and after last year, it's something I really have to step up," Sapien said. "I realize that. I'm taking it day-by-day and I'm working hard to become the best leader I can."

As far as the new faces, the freshman will have to produce for the Dragons to successfully navigate another rugged schedule.

Joining Hiebert on the outside are freshmen Katelyn Elstun (Overland Park), Camila Espejo (Bogota, Columbia).and Morgan Armbrust (Hutchinson High).

Sapien will be joined by freshman setter Lainey Robertson (New Orleans).

The Dragons will have an entirely new crew in the middle. Jaydin Schake (Amherst, NE), Jenna Thorne (Karitane New Zealand) and Myracle Lettries (Houston, TX) will work the middle this season.

Hall has a talented group of freshmen back-row players in Alissa Bautista (Kaneohe, HI) and Daejia Rodriguez (Laredo, TX). One of the huge spots to replace from last season was all-league libero Raychel Reed, who recorded better than 1,000 digs in her two-year career.

The 2018 Blue Dragons were 19-16 last season, finishing tied for third in the Jayhawk West with Barton. Hutch advanced all the way to the Region VI championship match last season.