Trinity volleyball seniors prepare for emotions, importance of final home match
The emotions of a high school senior night can be difficult to predict. It's labeled as a celebration, but it is also dreaded because it presents the finality of, usually, a wonderful athletic career. There's no telling how well somebody will res...
The emotions of a high school senior night can be difficult to predict.
It’s labeled as a celebration, but it is also dreaded because it presents the finality of, usually, a wonderful athletic career. There’s no telling how well somebody will respond.
“My mom will probably start crying,” Trinity senior outside hitter Kennedy Keator said. “That’s just how she is.”
OK, so there’s some certainty of what will happen when the Titans’ volleyball team (22-9-3, 10-0 Region 7) celebrates their five seniors at 7 p.m. today against Killdeer (4-14, 2-8 Region 7) at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center.
“My mom said she’ll probably cry,” senior middle hitter Brianna Soehren said. “I’m sure in the moment, (my parents) will try to keep a straight face and just smile. But afterward they’ll just get emotional.”
Soehren, Keator and their fellow seniors Chloe Ridl, Alanna Sickler and Madi Jahner will have their fair share of emotions too, of course.
“I don’t think I’m mentally prepared for that. It probably won’t hit me until after,” said Sickler, another middle hitter. “I feel like all us seniors will play to the best of our ability knowing we only have two games left guaranteed.”
Following the festivities of the evening, the Titans still must attempt to win a match that would have them finish the Region 7 regular season unbeaten at 11-0.
“I’m really nervous since the season is winding down, and that means it’s coming to an end,” said Ridl, the team’s setter. “I hope we can play really well and pull off a big win in our last regular season game.”
The team would then have a week before the beginning of the Region 7 Tournament, which will also be held at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. Keator said once the feelings of senior night subside, they will have to be replaced with a strong focus at what the team still aims to accomplish.
“It’ll be a more emotional night, but we have to bring our intensity and go out strong,” she said. “We knew we had to work hard this summer because we had good, strong teams in our region that we had to play hard against.”
The Titans are aware of their success this season, but there’s more they want to attain.
“I think we have the potential to make it pretty far, but pretty much every other team has that potential as well,” Soehren said. “It’ll come down to what team wants it the most.”
For a night, though, a little celebration couldn’t hurt, and there’s plenty to celebrate with this group.
“I think it’ll be a good ending,” head coach Breanna Messer said. “As a group, they bring a lot to practice. They’re fun, they’re hard-working, they’re coachable and they know what they want. They know what they have to do to win.”
The Titans have come to rely on their seniors in nearly every facet of the game.
Ridl has accumulated 789 assists this season, managing an offense that features the other four seniors as the top hitters.
Keator leads the bunch with 340 kills while hitting .279, but Sickler (219 kills, .250 hitting percentage), Soehren (177, .290) and Jahner (142, .229) are just as potent in any given match.
On defense, Soehren leads at the net with 69 total blocks, and each of the other four seniors has notched at least 200 digs this year. Keator has collected 61 aces this year, and Jahner has 45 while sporting a serve percentage of 93.4 percent.
The five seniors have played together across multiple sports for most of their high school careers, which they say helps with communication and morale, but it doesn’t make it any easier to see a season end.
“We’re definitely not just teammates,” Jahner said. “We spend tons of time together. Weekends, weekdays, practices, early mornings. You really get to know each other really well.”
Added Soehren: “We’ve made a lot of memories, done a lot together. These last couple games are going to be … I don’t even know how to describe it. It’ll be memorable, and it’ll be a great experience.”
Messer said she thinks the team as a whole plays better when the level of competition is raised. That bodes well for the Titans - and especially the seniors - heading into the regional tournament.
“Going into regionals with that kind of a target on their back, I think it’s more motivation to get done what needs to be done and leave it all on the court,” she said. “It adds a little more pressure being seniors, but I think they want to finish what they’ve already started.”