By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Cowley College volleyball signs two Panthers
Luna will compete, Duvall will assist team
valarie luna3
Great Bend Panther Valarie Luna signs a letter of intent to play volleyball at Cowley College. Front row—Daniel Luna, Valarie Luna, Pamela Luna; back row—Matt Westerhaus, Great Bend athletic director; Steven Gream, Cowley County head coach; Lana Milner, Cowley County assistant, Great Bend volleyball coach Shelly Duvall.

ARKANSAS CITY – Cowley College’s nationally-ranked volleyball program secured two Great Bend players when first-team All-Western Athletic Valarie Luna and Rylie Duvall signed with the Tigers. The Panthers finished with a 19-15 record

Luna will play volleyball while Duvall landed a scholarship to serve as a student assistant with the volleyball program.

Great Bend coach Shelly Duvall was pleased and surprised when her daughter was granted an opportunity to help pay for her education. Duvall hit 188 winners with 142 serves received, 126 digs and 12 blocks.

“Rylie Duvall’s volleyball career ended with her last match as a Great Bend Panther,” coach Duvall said. “Due to her scoliosis, she will be unable to play collegiate volleyball. But coach Steven Gream at Cowley County saw something special in her and wanted her as a part of his program. She was offered a student assistant scholarship and will continue to be around the sport she loves and her fellow teammate Valarie.

Great Bend Panther Sydney Unruh played for the past two years at Cowley, which finished as NJCAA runner-up in 2021 and qualified for the NJCAA Tournament in 2022.

Luna earned 2022 Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year honors.

“I was shocked and grateful at the same time,” said the 5-71/2 middle blocker. “My senior year was pretty fun and yet it had its ups-and- downs. How we ended the season made it a special time to be with my teammates. Those girls are special and I love them all.”

The 5-71/2 Luna plays the middle blocker position with a 30-inch vertical jump.

“Everything for me is about timing my jump for the potential block,” said Luna, who had 100 blocks, 37 solo. “You have to have your eyes on the ball and once it leaves the setter’s hand, your timing has to be spot on.”

Luna is in for just half of those, sitting out the times when she would be playing the back row.

“I serve in one rotation and then I’m in my middle blocker position,” Luna said. “I’ve had to work on my timing and being a better communicator on the court. We just say ‘ready, set’ for blocking.”

Luna finished the season with 196 winners in her limited court time, while coming up with 63 digs on the defensive side of the net. She served at a 92.5 percentage. Her 2.6 kills per set topped the team’s stats and her hitting percentage of .225 was also tops on the team.

Luna is interested in pursuing a degree in early childhood development and if that doesn’t work out, then perhaps a career in criminal justice.

A three-year starter for Duvall, Luna said she has improved dramatically since her first year in the lineup.

“My confidence level is 100 percent better than it was as a sophomore,” Luna said. “It felt like I was just thrown in to a block party and now I’ve got my shoulders squared, my head up high and I know what I can do. I’ve become more open on the court with my teammates and started talking more and that has been a big area of my improvement.”