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Warriors look to keep history of success going in 2013 (VIDEO)

By Taylor Mitchell
Aug. 10, 2013 at 3:10 a.m.

The Victoria West volleyball team stands in a huddle before starting play during a volleyball tournament at the Goliad Event Center. The Warriors played in Friday's tournament to prepare for the upcoming season.

WARRIORS AT A GLANCE

• HEAD COACH: Sandy Longoria (Fourth season, 103-19)

• 2012 RECORD: 36-7 (lost in regional semifinals)

• NEXT GAMES: Tuesday at St. Joseph, 7 p.m.; Thursday at Columbus Varsity Tournament; Friday at Columbus Varsity Tournament

For the first three seasons of Victoria West's existence, its volleyball program has been the dominant team of District 30-4A.

The Warriors have won the district championship, have won at least 30 or more games and advanced to the regional semifinals in each season but must overcome some losses to repeat that success.

Kelsea Kalich, Rachel Hamon, Deane Gallup and Blair Butschek all graduated from the 2012 squad, leaving just four returning starters on the team.

But despite those losses, the goals and expectations at West are still the same.

"The goals are always high for West," coach Sandy Longoria said. "We talked about last year, and we want to repeat the success of previous seasons."

That doesn't mean it'll be easy.

Kalich was the 2012 All-Area MVP with 562 kills, 380 digs, 56 blocks and 53 aces. Hamon notched 251 kills with 161 blocks, 59 digs and 12 aces.

"They were all key players," Longoria said. "Some players are harder to replace than others, but we're building the young ones to understand the responsibility to fill those shoes. That's what we're working on right now."

But even those seniors who are gone are still playing a role with West.

"They pushed us harder so we could hopefully get their spot or make us better for next year," senior Marit Manning said. "They made us better as players."

One thing that will help the Warriors step in for the departed seniors are scrimmages and preseason tournaments. They help Longoria and her coaching staff to see who can produce in a game-like situation and also give the Warriors some in-game experience.

"It's very little experience put together," Longoria said. "We have two freshman, four returners and some from JV, with little to no varsity experience."

However, the Warriors are loaded with plenty of talent.

Michelle Rendon, Brooke Kirkpatrick, Ellen Hermes, Shelby Spradley and Kate Klimist all made appearances on the All-District 30-4A team.

Hermes, a senior entering her third season on the varsity squad, is one of the most experienced players West has. That experience helps her understand the game and know what to expect.

"It helps because I know the pace of the game, and I can anticipate the speed of the game," she said. "I know what the hitters on the other side are going to do."

What makes the Warriors good, though, is how the play together as a team.

"It's not just one person pulling the team," Manning said. "We each have a role and we do our job."

"I know if we get down a few points we just come together and work together to get out of it," Hermes added.

West is heading into its fourth season but has already broken the 100-win plateau with back-to-back 36-win seasons. Continuing that success won't be easy, but the Warriors believe they can do it.

"I think we'll go far," Manning said. "We each have good strengths and can pull on our own weight."

"My goal is for us to be district champs for the fourth year in a row," Hermes said.

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