By Adam Kolb / Co – Sports editor
The Hutchinson Community College volleyball team is playing as well as it has all season. The Blue Dragons have a 14-6 record, and at one point, had an eight-match winning streak.
However, before that winning streak occurred, there were some bumps in the road.
According to first-year Blue Dragons coach Delice Downing, it wasn’t necessarily a slow start for the Blue Dragons, but a growing start.
“We had to learn to trust one another on the court,” Downing said, “and the players had to trust and buy in what was being taught to a coach that they have only interacted with for five months.” The Blue Dragons lost their first match of the season to Garden City, and would eventually get to a 6-5 record before finding their groove and rattling off eight straight victories.
Sophomore Chloe Price said there were some changes the team made in order to get on that run. “We had a lot of energy going into the games,” Price said, “and we minimized our errors and made the other teams make the errors.”
Price also said that the two biggest strengths of the team is blocking and serving.
Another strength of the team would be their ability to deal with changes to the lineup. Downing said the lineup has changed many times.
“We had to find the right core players to excel in the right spots,” Downing said. “Some players came in as an outside and we have changed them to a middle or a right side from last year’s team. Volleyball is all about changes and controlling the chaos on the court. The group we have playing now does a great job of ball control, being coachable, stepping out of the box and controlling chaos.”
Downing said she admires her entire team for not giving up after a 3-3 start and 0-2 start in the Jayhawk Conference, but there are some players who stand out to her.
“Impressive players would be Jenna Thorne, Chloe Price for our offense, and Kristina Head, Shelby Reeder for our defense,” Downing said. “Shadee Briggs is a well rounded player that you wouldn’t expect it from but brings the heat.”
The month of March will be a grind for the Blue Dragons, as five of their remaining eight important conference games are on the road. Downing said that believes that once this season is over, the accolades are soon to come.
“These girls have earned every bit of the respect,” Downing said. (I’m) blessed we have talented, hard workers in our volleyball family.”