Bethel volleyball team matches win total
McPHERSON — The Bethel College volleyball team has won as many matches in six days as the team did in nine months last season.
The Threshers downed Central Christian College in three sets Wednesday in McPherson, Bethel’s third win of the season, matching the team’s win total in the extended in the 2020-21 season.
Bethel won 25-17, 25-17, 25-22.
“This season is a lot different than last year,” first-year Bethel coach Adriana Leake said. “It is kind of hard to compare side-by-side, these two seasons. But they’ve been working so hard. They are so bought in. They are really excited about the success. It’s not about the wins for us. It’s about the deep things. We’re just trying to get better.”
Leake came aboard in May, making the jump from Wichita Northwest to the college ranks. Last year’s season was split between the fall and spring because of the COVID-19 outbreak, giving Leake a short turnaround to prepare for this season and the returning players only a short off-season.
“The girls are really excited to know we’re not going that long into the season,” Leake said. “They came in with a lot of energy. They are excited about a new coach and a new program. They are all excited to have a normal season so far. … It’s been all so good. The community has been so good. It’s nice just coaching and not teaching or doing odd-jobs. I was a stay-at-home last year. The biggest thing is moving beyond the past and changing the culture.”
Leake succeeded Stacy Middleton, who resigned to take an administrative position in the BC athletic department.
“Stacy did a really good job of recruiting,” Leake said. “A lot of the girls we brought in were her recruits. I brought in one — Maddie Baxter, and she didn’t play a lot tonight because of injury. Recruiting was a difficulty, but these girls have a lot of talent, for sure.”
Also joining the team this year is a familiar face in former Newton High School and Wichita State standout Abbie Chaffin (nee Lehman), as an assistant coach. Chaffin, a four-time NCAA All-American, led the Shockers to a pair of Missouri Valley Conference titles, an American Athletic Conference title and three NCAA tournament berths.
“I was doing personal training and health training in Wichita,” Chaffin said. “I also was giving volleyball lessons one-on-one and group lessons.”
Chaffin said she likes what she’s seen at Bethel so far.
“It’s the same game,” Chaffin said. “We’re trying to implement some of the same stuff that coach and I did in college. The girls are doing a nice job with it. It’s a big adjustment (going from player to coach), but it’s also been a lot of fun. You know what kind of coach you want to have. I try to beat that coach and encouraging.”
“She’s been huge for us in coaching the blocking and offensive things that are new for the girls and new for the program. That has shown in our stats. We have blocked really well. We still have a lot of room for improvement, but she’s done a really good job so far.”
Bailee Alexander lead a balanced attack against Central with 10 kills. Mia Loganbill and Kaitlyn Shima each put down eight kills. Mia Roman set 18 assists, followded by Shima with 16. Meghan Brockmeier and Roman each had 18 digs. Baxter downed three blocks.
“Last season was definitely a long one,” said Shima, a sophomore from Topeka. “It was hard to push through. This year, we have a lot of opportunities to do some good things. Over the summer, we have been meeting weekly — doing workouts to keep us in shape. I think we’ve had new mentality shift and a lot of new talent coming in. They are just being prepared to see varsity time and working to fit in. We have a lot of strong returners as well as new talent. We all just mesh together. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s going to be a good year.”
Shima has a number of family connections to Bethel. Her brother Zach was a standout tennis player and a recent Academic All-American. Her parents also attended Bethel.
Shima went on attack a little more this season, as well as setting.
“Last year, I was middle and setter,” she said. “This year, I’m right-side and setter. I’m still hitting and setting, but in a different position.”
Aijha Sampsell led 0-1 Central with nine kills, McKenzee Cook set 14 assists and had seven digs. Zola Moore added seven digs with two blocks. Jacque Freeman served a pair of aces.
Bethel, 3-2, hosts Friends and Bethany in a triangular that begins at 11 a.m. Saturday. The matches won’t count towards conference play.
“I’m really looking forward to those match-ups,” Leake said. “Based on the KCAC Fall Fling, we’re all pretty similar in terms of our level of play.”
Central plays Friday and Saturday at the Manhattan Christian College Classic, facing Cottey College and York College Friday and Sterling and Manhattan Christian Saturday.
Time — 1:07.
K-kills, AS-assists, AC-aces, B-total blocks, D-digs.
Mark Schnabel can be reached at email@example.com