By DAVID COOK
After winning the O-K Silver volleyball championship two years ago, the Hopkins Vikings finished second to Calvin Christian last season. This fall, with a mix of talented young players and some veterans, the Vikings are determined to regain the conference title.
The Vikings have tailored their schedule to help them prepare for a run at the league title, and early returns have reflected that, as Hopkins has had a mixed bag of success.
“We’ve been kind of up and down,” coach Terrie Wisser said. “We always start with some real strong tournaments at the start of the year, so it seems like it always takes us a little while to get going, but they‘ve been playing pretty good. We just keep plugging away in practice and working on the little things that will make a difference in the games.”
The Vikings will again challenge the Calvin Christian Squires for league supremacy this season. Kent City is also in the mix for the league title.
“We’re young,” Wisser said. “We have three freshmen, three sophomores, three juniors, and three seniors, so we are extremely balanced. So we have experience, but yet we are really inexperienced. Every day in practice I feel like we are getting better, learning, and a lot is going on in practice. It’s always big, you always want to contend for the conference. Certainly Calvin is one of the top teams in the conference and they’ve got height.”
Calvin Christian is one of the taller teams in the league, and for the Vikings, who do not have an abundance of height, playing aggressively will be key.
“One of the things, I mean we’re not super tall in terms of blocking and things, so that‘s something we really have to continue to work on is being efficient and being aggressive at the net,” Wisser said. “Calvin has height, and that is one thing that is always a little challenging for us, but the girls work hard every day, and these are great girls to work with.”
Leading the way for the Vikings this season are senior captains Kristin Gilbert, the team’s setter, libero Ashley Sokol, and outside hitter Ashly Kamp.
“I have three seniors that I think are great, great leaders on the floor,” Wisser said. “It’s a nice combination because it’s Ashley Sokol who is the libero, Kristin Gilbert who’s the setter, and Ashly Kamp who’s the outside hitter, so it’s a nice little trio and I think that they are great leaders on the court. They’re hard workers, great kids, and I’d like to see them have a nice senior year.”
By DAVID COOK