CLAFLIN— There are certain teams that don’t regroup. They reload. Such is the case for the Central Plains Oiler volleyball team. Following a 2014 campaign that ended on a stellar 40-3 mark, coach Kim Rolfs and her Oiler girls will again set their sights on a berth in a state championship match.
The Oilers were within arm’s reach of playing for the state title last season before bowing out to Washington County in the semifinals.
The depth-rich squad enters the 2015 run with an impressive stack of hardware. Central Plains hoisted two regular season trophies in 2014 at Russell and Hoisington before claiming the crown of the Central Plains League tournament. The Oilers went on to win sub state and finished third in the state in class 2A along with winning the KVA 2A Program of the Year award.
With stops at Quivira Heights, Pratt and now CPHS and an overall head coaching record of 167-73, Rolfs and her Oilers are eyeing another shot at the state championship in 2015.
“We’re excited about getting started and working towards getting back to state,” Rolfs said. “We have some solid depth returning from last year that will not only bring athletic ability but leadership to the team.”
Central Plains returns five starters from last season including a pair of All State honorees. Senior Taylor Rolfs will wind up her high school career at CPHS following her First Team All State selection in 2014. At 5-11, Rolfs lead the Oilers as a junior averaging five kills per set. She also lead the team in digs and solo blocks and was third on the team in assists at setter. She was selected to the First Team All League squad in addition to being named as an All State All Tournament choice.
Cassidy Crites was second on the team in assists as one of three setters for the team. Crites, a junior and a 2014 All State Honorable Mention pick, was third in kills and lead the team in assisted blocks. She joined Rolfs as an All State All Tournament selection and was named to the Second Team All CPL.
Coach Rolfs will also focus on strengthening and fine tuning an already talented roster starting with 5-6 senior and 2014 All League Honorable Mention selectee Reagan Phelan.
“Reagan contributed immensely with her athleticism and quickness,” the coach said. “She lead the team in set assists and ace serves. She’s worked hard this summer in improving her attacking and I’m confident she will make our team much harder to beat with her ability to attack the ball.”
Other top returners include 5-8 junior Kylee Kasselman. A Second Team All CPL honoree Kasselman was second on the team in kills in 2014.
“Kylee is another huge component of our success,” said Rolfs. “She works extremely hard in the off season to improve her game. She is a very strong hitter and skilled in many other areas.”
Taylor Oeser returns for her sophomore season after starting as a freshman a year ago.
“Taylor was another major asset to our success last year,” Rolfs said. “She has the ability to react to the ball that you just don’t see a lot in young players. She will continue to help us out on the backline as our libero.”
Rolfs remarked on the challenge of replacing graduated seniors Abby Stueder and Julie Demel.
“That’s going to be a tough job,” said Rolfs. “But Chelsea (Bieberle) has proven this summer that she will be able to fill one of those roles. She has a solid work ethic and she showed us that during the offseason.”
The Oilers will begin competition on Thursday, September 3 in a quad at Natoma. The JV begins their season on Saturday, August 29 in tournament action at Ness City.
“Our approach is one step at a time,” Rolfs said. “We are more focused about getting better throughout the season so by substate we’re ready to be our best and put ourselves in position to get back to state. Once we get there we will then focus on making it to day two and eventually the championship game.”