BY CORA TASSET
Tiger volleyball is back in Hays after their 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19. The team showed off their energy, skill, and competitiveness on Saturday at their Black and Gold Scrimmage.
Fort Hays has three incoming freshmen, five sophomores, four juniors, and only two seniors this season. With a fairly young team and eight returning players, the Tigers were slotted ninth in the preseason MIAA poll, and they are excited to see where the season takes them.
“We are all really ready to play an actual game after the last couple of years have been super weird, we are itching to get back out there and see our competition,” senior outside hitter Isabelle Reynolds said. “We are a really young team and we have been doing really well and right now we are working on getting to know each other on and off the court; those connections will really benefit us this season.”
Head Coach Jessica Wood-Atkins enters her third year as head coach of the Tiger volleyball team and is ready to get back to coaching and being with the girls after last year.
“I’m really excited, we have a group of very competitive girls who have stayed focused and stayed positive and I think they will definitely come out ready,” Wood-Atkins said. “We’re running a faster offense this season and that really challenges our blockers to be faster and that will be something that is more mental than physical that we will need to work on this season.”
The Tigers play 15 times at home this season starting with the Tiger Classic tournament on September 10. They will play Southwest Minnesota State and Cameron on Friday and Black Hills State and Adams State on Saturday.
With only two seniors on the team, Wood-Atkins said she looks for Reynolds to take charge with other team members also stepping into leadership roles.
“I expect Isabelle Reynolds will take the lead and take charge of the girls this season, she has done a tremendous job leading these girls throughout the pandemic. She got them collected to come in early this fall and she comes in every day and gets them focused and ready to roll,” Wood-Atkins said. “I think we are very solid across the board, some standouts this season already are Morgan Christiansen in the middle and then on the right side between Mykah Eshbaugh and Jaysa Wichers, they are both very dynamic and strong.”
The Tigers’ first official match is in Pueblo, Colorado over Labor Day weekend for the Steel City Showcase. On Friday they will play Minnesota-Crookston and CSU-Pueblo and on Saturday 4th they will play Chadron State and the University of Mary. FHSU’s full schedule can be found here.