Now that she’s a senior, there’s a few goals that are easy to put on the to-do list for Garden City High School’s Taylor Terpstra.
Winning the Western Athletic Conference championship is first on the list. The Buffs will be gunning for:
— Their eighth-straight league crown.
— The Class 6A sub-state championship. They will seek their fourth consecutive such title.
— Advance to the Class 6A state tournament (by virtue of the sub-state title).
— And Reach Day 2 of the state tournament, meaning that they’ve reached the semifinals for the first time after three fruitless trips that have seen them head home after the opening day of pool play. The 2017 team, though, managed to win two sets, one each against Topeka-Washburn Rural and Lawrence High, after having gone winless in their two previous trips.
Terpstra holds the unlikely spot of being the lone senior on the 2018 edition of coach Trista Bailey’s squad, her second since assuming the reins of the program a year ago.
“It is pretty odd to be the only senior,” Terpstra said after the team went through its first public scrimmage Thursday evening at The Garden. “When I was a freshman, we had a big class who played, and it slowly got smaller. But I’m having a lot of fun with this group.”
Of the 10 varsity spots, five are sophomores and four are freshmen, but don’t underestimate the group as they’ve got a boatload of experience.
The Buffs did lose four starters from last season’s 27-11 squad, but in addition to Terpstra, Bailey returns juniors Ashlyn Swan (5-10 middle blocker), Remi Vargas (5-5 setter), Kelbi Richter (5-5 libero), and Reagan Karlin (6-1 outside hitter).
Karlin would be considered the top player returning, having earned all-Western Athletic Conference honors, Class 6A all-state and also was named The Telegram’s Volleyball Player of the Year.
“They’ve played a lot of volleyball together while on paper they look young,” said Bailey. “They play other sports, they’re competitive and they’ve put in a lot of hard work. Their overall volleyball I.Q. is quite high and efficient.”
Terpstra and her teammates will open their regular season on Tuesday with a home triangular vs. Salina Central (5 p.m.) and Newton (7 p.m.), and she can’t wait to get the schedule under way.
“I think we’re all really excited to begin the season,” Terpstra said. “We’re working on talking to each other because it can be really loud in the gym. I think we’re focused on keeping a positive attitude and looking forward to the next point rather than dwelling on the previous point.”
The tradition established in recent years is another thing that Terpstra wants to continue.
“We’ve got a strong program, and coach (Bailey) is always pushing us,” said Terpstra, who has switched from being an outside hitter to being a right-side hitter. “You have a different angle to hit so I’ve been working on positioning, and trying to mix it up with my shots.”
Starting her second season has been much smoother for Bailey, too.
“I feel more comfortable with everything and how everything works here at the school,” Bailey said.
And what has she observed thus far in the preseason?
“Our serve/receive and the primary passer has been solid,” Bailey said. “If we get blocks on the defensive side I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Bailey said the team still needed to upgrade its distribution of the ball to different people as opposed to primarily looking to the 6-1 Karlin, who had 381 kills (.403 hitting efficiency) as a sophomore. Vargas had 818 assists and 201 digs while Richter had 218 digs. All four had a serving percentage of between 94.1 and 97.8 percent. Swan had 81 kills in a reserve role.
Among the top newcomers are three sophomores — 5-10 outside hitter Julie Calzonetti, 5-9 middle blocker Abby Ellermann and 5-6 defensive specialist Abby Parr.
“If we can get those young players integrated into the rotation, we have a chance to be pretty good,” Bailey said.