Blue Springs volleyball's Chloe Kaminski, Jalyn Walruff eager for senior season to start
Katie Straka couldn't help but smile as she ran her Blue Springs High School volleyball team through a three-hour practice Monday afternoon.
The Wildcats had just started one of their most intense drills, in which everyone on the team has to run if a teammate does not hit a perfect serve.
"It's about as close as we can come to a game situation in practice," Straka said, "but this team is so special. They have to do a lot of running – and it's usually not one of their favorite parts of practice – but they're out there smiling, having a good time. I love this team."
And two seniors echo their coach's love of the Wildcats – seniors Chloe Kaminski and Jalyn Walruff.
"I don't even want to think about it being my senior year," said Kaminski, who was named The Examiner's Volleyball Player of the Year and earned all-state honors the past two seasons. "Someone said, 'That's our last tryouts,' and I wanted to say, 'Don't say that.’ It makes me sad to think about everything being my last time doing this or that."
But the vision of playing volleyball at the University of Oklahoma takes some of the edge off wrapping up her Wildcats career.
"Right now, all I'm thinking about is my senior year," said Kaminski, who led the district champion Wildcats in kills (288), hitting percentage (.310), aces (29), digs (353) and blocks (13) last year. "I want to have a great senior season – and I want our team to have a lot of success. We lost some great players to graduation, but we're doing a great job in practice. And when the season starts, we'll be ready to go."
Walruff shares Kaminski's passion for her team, but she is facing a different goal her senior season.
"I want the team to have success, and I want to have success because I'm playing for a scholarship," said Walruff, who plays across the front row. "I have been on team where I didn't like all the players, but that is not the case this season.
"It's like Coach Straka said, I love this team. I love practice and I love being with the girls and doing things when practice is over. We're as tight as any team I've been a part of, and I think that will lead to a successful season."
One part of a new season that all coaches dread is telling prospective players that they did not make the team.
"We had 65 kids try out and we kept 39 – and it's always tough to cut a player," Straka said. "We're going to be young, but we don't look like a young team in practice. We're getting after it, working hard and really enthusiastic.
"Like our girls, I'm really excited for the start of the season."
The Wildcats open play on Aug. 30 when they play host to Park Hill South.