Creston’s departing seniors on the 2012 volleyball team were part of an encouraging new era in Panther volleyball, coach Polly Luther said at Sunday’s team banquet in the high school commons.
The first-year coach was encouraged by the 13-12 season — Creston’s first winning record since 1992 — and a tie for sixth in the Hawkeye 10 at 3-6. Highlights included the season-opening win at Norwalk, in overcoming the loss of senior hitter Amy Dunphy during the match; the senior night home win over Glenwood; and a hard-fought five-set loss against a tall, talented Shenandoah team. (Glenwood and Shenandoah were the teams tied with Creston in the league standings.)
“We started something that hasn’t been done at Creston in 20 years in girls volleyball,” Luther said. “Our seniors have ended their careers with our program looking up. Now, it’s our job as coaches and underclassmen to make sure that continues.”
Creston seniors honored Sunday were Amy Dunphy, Sam McDonald, Brianna Maitlen, Sydney Rogers, Mackenzie Andreasen, Taylor Hudson and Jana Johnson.
Maitlen and sophomore Natalie Mostek earned all-conference honorable mention.
The Panthers competed in a league with three state tournament teams — Carroll Kuemper, Harlan and Red Oak, while another state team, Council Bluffs St. Albert, joins the conference next year.
“That’s OK,” Luther said about the H-10 gauntlet. “It can only make you better.”
Dunphy, McDonald, Maitlen and Rogers were part of the team’s main varsity rotation for multiple seasons. Luther, assisted this year by Mallory Peterson and freshman coach Mike McCabe, paid tribute to their contributions.
“Amy’s (injury-plagued) season was a nightmare for her,” Luther said. “Volleyball was huge in her life, and to see that taken away was tough. She put in a lot of time. Brianna continued to get better all season. Sam took on a new role as libero and it seemed to work well. She’s a good passer and a strong server. Sydney was also a versatile back row player who was very valuable to us. She could hit out of the back row, and when her serving was on she was tough.
“That group of seniors, I started with them in seventh grade as their AAU coach,” Luther noted. “I hope they know how very special they are to me.”
Luther lettered 17 players, including all seven seniors and several young players who were “put in tough situations” in varsity matches during the course of the season.
“With no complaining, they came in and gave 100 percent in some situations that might crush some kids,” Luther said. “They stepped into roles we asked of them when we needed them.”
(Number of letters)
Seniors — Mackenzie Andreasen (1), Amy Dunphy (3), Taylor Hudson (3), Jana Johnson (1), Sam McDonald (3), Brianna Maitlen (3), Sydney Rogers (2).
Sophomores — Brenna Baker (1), Nicole Haley (2), Ashley Harris (2), Haylee LaMasters (2), Hanna Luther (2), Natalie Mostek (2).
Freshmen — Sydney Dunphy (1), Jami Sickels (1), Jenna Taylor (1), Alli Thomsen (1).
Managers — Megan Hull (2), Breanna Luther (1), Tanna Smallwood (2), Katie Utley (1).
Juniors — Cooper Bailey, Chelcee Downing, Audrey Fyock, Olivia Nielsen, Michelle Powers, Sarah Waigand.
Sophomores — Marie Hood.
Freshmen — Ashley Bargstadt, Ashley Eblen, Alyssa Higgins, Brooke McGehee, Gracie Russell, Josie Sickels, Angela Sorensen, Rebecca Watson.
Honorable mention — Brianna Maitlen, Natalie Mostek.
All-Academic — Mackenzie Andreasen, Amy Dunphy, Taylor Hudson, Jana Johnson, Samantha McDonald, Sydney Rogers.