By Josh Hall (email@example.com)
The Hurley High School volleyball team might have surprised some people after the young squad won a district championship last year.
The Tigers now want to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke, and they want to elevate their game even higher in 2017.
“I think we still have to prove ourselves,” said first-year coach Laken Walden, who graduated from Crane in 2010. “But I would say, yes, we have that target on our back.”
Last season, Hurley held off Blue Eye in three sets in the Class 1, District 7 title game. The Tigers later fell to Billings in sectionals, finishing the season with a 16-13 record.
“They were young last year, so they kind of have that under their belt and we’re still considered a young team,” Walden said. “They’ve had some success and I think they’re just going to feed off that. They know what I expect from them. So far this season, they’ve really lived up to my expectations.”
Walden, who played at Northeastern Oklahoma for two years before transferring to Avila, has high expectations. So does her team. They came to that understanding from the beginning.
“They said we want to get past sectionals,” Walden said. “We don’t want your expectation to just be, ‘let’s win districts,’”
Hurley graduated one player from last season in Lexie Winfree, a middle hitter who is now playing at Hannibal-LaGrange University.
The Tigers return lone senior Sierra Flood, a Second-Team Mark Twain All-Conference middle and outside hitter.
Hurley will have a junior-dominated class with four returning starters from last year. Paige Simpson (M), Samantha Hall (M/RD), Hailey Chamberlain (S) and Hailey White (DS) are all back after solid sophomore seasons.
“I have pretty high expectations for my girls,” Walden said. “They’ve really picked up on what I want from them and they know what they’re capable of.”