After three days of practice, members of the West and East all-star volleyball teams are ready to showcase their talents Saturday afternoon at Western Nebraska Community College’s Cougar Palace.
First serve for the 35th West Nebraska All-Star Volleyball Match is set for 2 p.m.
The West will be looking to continue its recent domination over the East after winning four of the last five meetings and 11 of the past 13. The West holds a 21-13 advantage dating back to 1984.
“They look energetic and they’re having fun,” West head coach Jodi Craig of Leyton said. “We have things to work on this afternoon, but practices have gone well.”
East head coach Belinda Coble of Mullen said her team has had a couple good workouts leading up to game day.
“We had some good practices the last couple of days,” Coble said. “We are starting to pick up the talk, meshing together a little bit more, and it is going good.”
The East will be looking for revenge after last year’s match in which the West won the last three sets to sting the East.
Coble said they just need to play their game and have fun.
“We need to stay in our area and to just play every ball from hitting the floor,” she said. “We need to just play together as a team no matter what six are on the court.”
The East will be facing a tall task in stopping the West’s two big hitters — 6-foot-2 Keyena Wilfred from Mitchell and 6-1 Emersen Cyza from Alliance.
Craig said she is excited to coach all the talent on the West squad.
“It is a lot of fun to stand back and watch them do what they do naturally or what they are good at,” Craig said. “Some of them have played together before and some of them haven’t, but it is a privilege to coach those that I haven’t got to coach and to coach that many good athletes all at once.”
The match should be competitive. In addition to both teams featuring plenty of talented hitters, both squads also have lots of solid setters as well.
“We have some great setters that will get the ball to our hitters,” Craig said. “It will be what our hitters decide to do with the ball.”
Coble said the East also has one of the better defensive players or liberos in the contest in Callaway’s Adrianna Hild.
“There have been a couple players that stand out,” Coble said. “We have several girls that can hit the ball and four girls that can set the ball. We got Adi Hild, who is a good libero. She can about pick up anything. Addi Johnson is probably the most dynamic player.”
Johnson is a 5-10 hitter from Cody-Kilgore.
The West’s size could be a major difference. The East’s tallest player is 6-0 Jayceea Hanson of McCook and McKayla Meyer of Loomis. The East also have a pair of 5-10 players in Loomis’ Alley Beisner and Johnson
The West features Wilfred and Cyza, who both over 6-0, and three other players that are 5-10 or taller. They include Hemingford’s Lauren Gasseling at 5-11, and Sidney’s Payton Jung and Hershey’s Channing Holm, who both stand at 5-10.
“We have some height,” Craig said. “We are looking forward to some great attacks and blocks.”
A number of the all-stars will continue playing in college.
For the West, Cyza will play volleyball at the University of Wyoming and Wilfred will play basketball at UNLV.
Other West players that will continue their volleyball-playing careers are Mitchell’s Anabelle Gillen at WNCC, Sidney’s Jung at Colorado College, Sidney’s Katelyn Sylvester at Black Hills State, Bayard’s Kylie Stuart at Nebraska Wesleyan, Chadron’s Carstyn Hageman at Chadron State, Sutherland’s Erica Hopping at North Platte Community College, Hershey’s Holm at Southeast Community College, Ogallala’s Mackenzie Anderson at McCook Community College, and Hershey’s Emily Barr at McCook.
Anabelle Gillen and Keyena Wilfred, Mitchell; Lauren Gasseling, Hemingford; Lily Fair and Mackenzie Anderson, Ogallala; Carstyn Hageman, Chadron; Emersen Cyza, Alliance; Payton Jung and Katelyn Sylvester, Sidney; Erica Hopping, Sutherland; Channing Holm, and Emily Barr, Hershey; and Kylie Stuart, Bayard.
West Coaches: Jodi Craig, Leyton, and Blakelee Hoffman, Chadron.
Hayley Homan, North Platte St. Pats; Alysen Daniels and Courtney Rice, Mullen; Abbie Hedgecock, North Platte; Jayceea Hanson, McCook; Kaelie Tomlin, Cambridge; Alley Beisner and McKayla Meyer, Loomis; Sydnee Sallach and Adrianna Hild, South Loup; Macy Widick, Brady; Addison Johnson, Cody-Kilgore; and Allison Bauer, Elm Creek.
East Coaches: Belinda Coble, Mullen, and Randi Atkins, South Loup.