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The senior Honker volleyball players promise the crowd will be entertained at the matches this season. “The fans are going to see some ridiculousness,” said Halie Nelson. She shook her head. “The varsity is just nonsense!”
Ashley Barnhart laughed and clarified Nelson’s remark. “Well, we’re going to take it seriously,” she said, “but we’ll never not be having fun!”
Nelson countered with a joke about the team’s middle blocker, who happens to be Barnhart standing all of 5’4”. Caleen Crider joined in the laughter, then explained, “We’re not tall this year, but we’ve got the quickness.”
The Honkers’ size is a major factor this season, coming off five consecutive appearances at the state Class B tournament, winning twice in those five years and playing in the top bracket each time.
“This year, we don’t have the same expectations [as the past few seasons],” Nelson said. “I think we’re going to come out this year better than they think we are.”
“For the last few years, we’ve had at least one all-state hitter on the team,” Barnhart explained. “Now we’re excited because we’re going to a different style of game.”
“Our offensive sets are going to be evened out among the hitters,” added Crider. “There’ll be more balance, and this year there will be more running in and out.”
Barnhart laughed again. “We have to do that in order to move the block around,” she said.
The seniors are adjusting to the new offense and the addition of some new players on the varsity squad, including freshmen. One change for Nelson is the presence of her sister Katie, a sophomore, next to her on the court at times. The seniors praised their younger teammates for stepping up to the challenge. “The older girls on our team get along well with the younger girls,” Nelson said.
The seniors are well aware they will face more tests this season in district and regional play. “There are not going to be blow-out games,” Crider said, then grinned. “I’m looking forward to playing Minot Ryan.”
“Glenburn and Minot Ryan have built [their teams] back up,” added Nelson. “Everybody is going to be good.”
“We have lots of good competition,” Barnhart said, “from Our Redeemer’s and Stanley to Minot Ryan.”
She glanced at her two senior teammates before admitting the team’s goal was to play in the state tournament again. “It’s definitely not going to be easy,” she said.
“Before, I think we expected it,” explained Nelson. “This year, we’re going to have to work for it, and I think we will work harder.”
Coach Wallstrum relies
on controlled play
Head coach Tim Wallstrum agreed the team will have to work hard. “They’re short,” he said. “That’s the predominant theme. But we’re going to be aggressive. We’re a quick team and we should be able to handle the ball quite well.”
He continued his assessment, “Our net play will not be what it’s been in the past five years, but we have a good passing defense team.”
Fans should realize the Honkers may be in for some long matches. “In the past, we’ve won with very superior offenses,” Wallstrum said. “This year, it will be a matter of winning a war of attrition. The games will be longer because we’ll need to bring the ball back.”
He noted this Honkers squad, with only 17 players, is similar in height to teams he coached during his first 15 years at Kenmare, and that the Honkers have posted winning records in the 24 years of the program. For that to happen this season, the team’s offensive ball control will need to improve.
“We can’t commit a lot of errors ourselves,” he said, listing out-of-bound hits and serves into the net as two mistakes to be avoided. “Right now, we’re making errors, but we want to make the other team earn their points, not give them points on our mistakes.”
Wallstrum considered the district and region to be balanced this year. “I don’t see a lot of other big teams in our region,” he said.
The Honkers will have to play their top game to shut down the strong play of hitters Whitney Page from Bottineau and Ashley Koppinger of Our Redeemer’s. “But that’s workable,” Wallstrum said, “and I think we’ve got just as good a chance to go back to state as anyone else.”
As he echoed the team goal mentioned by the seniors, Wallstrum listed several powerful teams that would also be seeking state berths, including non-conference rivals Stanley and Ray, Linton-HMB which finished second in the state last season, and Region 4 powerhouses Langdon, Carrington, Midkota and Harvey-Wells County. “They’re all more powerful and bigger than we are,” he said.
In fact, Kenmare faces Ray, Stanley and Bottineau in the first two weeks of the game schedule. “Some of our toughest competition will be early in the season,” said Wallstrum, adding that
However, the Honkers can play on that state court, too. “We have to take that one step at a time,” Wallstrum. “We have to be on our game every night, we have to stay focused, and we have to avoid injuries because we’re not very deep.”
He’s also looking forward to watching the Honkers demonstrate their ball handling skills. “If anyone watched the JV team last year, they would see the JV won a lot of games on their ball handling and serving,” he said. “And our JV this year handles the ball better than any JV team in the past.”
He listed Justice Brown, Chelsea Nelson and McKenzie Chrest as three of the top JV passers. Two liberos are working the Honkers’ back row this season, with Kennedy Fricke playing JV and Morgan Goettle on the varsity.
Wallstrum attributes much of the players’ abilities and enthusiasm for the game to his assistant coach Faye Alexander and to junior high coach Merry Feldman, a former varsity coach herself. “I don’t think people know how lucky we are here,” Wallstrum said. “There are schools that are asking people, begging people to coach, and I have a full staff of good coaches.”
The senior trio leading the Honkers this season includes Ashley Barnhart, Caleen Crider and Halie Nelson.
Three juniors will take the court for the team, with Morgan Goettle, Shelby Hass and Lexi Munson.
Seven sophomores will suit up in maroon and gold for the games, including Shantell Brekhus, McKenzie Chrest, Kennedy Fricke, Kayla Halverson, Shania Mau, Chelsea Nelson and Katie Nelson.
Four freshmen are taking flight as Honkers, with Justice Brown, McKinzie Jensen, Vanessa Vasquez and Beca Wallstrum.
Arionna Radomski will keep the team’s book for the season, while stats will be handled by Ramsi Moorhead, Jennifer Donaghe and Shelby Kittleson.
KHS takes 5th at
Coal Country Invite
The Honkers volleyball team opened the 2011 season with a fifth place finish in the Coal Country Invitational Tournament played in Hazen last weekend.
Kenmare defeated Flasher 25-15, 25-14 and Beulah 25-19, 25-25 in pool play, but lost to tournament champion Ray 25-9, 25-12.
The Honkers’ record in pool play was good enough to enter the Gold Division bracket, where they lost the first match to Linton-HMB 25-17, 24-26, 15-8.
KHS came back to win the next two matches, though, defeating Hazen 25-21, 25-16 and Dickinson Trinity 25-10, 25-19 to place fifth.
Ray won the tournament, topping
with tough competition
The Honkers hosted Ray last night, with match results unavailable at press time.
Kenmare will travel to Stanley on September 6th and Bottineau on the 8th, then play in the Glenburn Tournament on the 10th.
The Honkers welcome Tioga to the home court on the 12th, followed by Minot Bishop Ryan on the 15th. Kenmare will be on the road against Our Redeemer’s
October begins with MLS coming to the Honkers court on the 4th. Kenmare travels to Berthold to play Lewis & Clark on the 6th. The DLB Laker Invitational Tournament will take place October 7th and 8th at
Glenburn hosts the Northwest Conference Tournament on October 15th, followed by Kenmare’s final home match on the 25th against
District tournament play is scheduled for October 28th, 31st and November 1st at DLB, with the regional tournament slated for November 7th, 8th and 10th and the state tournament November 17-19.
Line judges needed
Because of the low number of players on the team this season, the Honkers are asking for help with line judging during home matches. Normally, a player can fill in for line judging duties, but Wallstrum explained that wouldn’t be possible this year. “This would be for our C-squad and JV games,” he said. “If anybody is interested in line judging to help us out, we’d appreciate that.”
Adults or high school students willing to volunteer their time as line judges for Kenmare C-squad and JV matches are asked to contact activities director Robert Thom at
Of course, the seniors hope everyone stays to enjoy their games as well. “We have energy,” Nelson said.
“We have lots of fun games coming up, and we’ll be having fun,” added Barnhart, “so the fans will be having fun, too!”