Four starters back to push Railer spikers

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
Newton senior Gracie Rains was a second-team all-league selection from last season.

Player to watch:

• Senior Gracie Rains

Coach's pick for top opponents:

AV-CTL I — Maize South, Derby, Hutchinson.

Non-League — Wichita Northwest, Washburn Rural.

Schedule:

Aug. 28 @ AV-CTL Pre-Season, Hutchinson 8 a.m.

Aug. 31 @ Garden City w/Maize South 4 p.m.

Sept. 9 @ Independence 5 p.m.

Sept. 14 Campus, Maize 5 p.m.

Sept. 18 @ Maize Inv. 9 a.m.

Sept. 21 @ Maize w/Salina South 5 p.m.

Sept. 25 Newton Inv. 8:30 a.m.

Sept. 28 Derby, Hutchinson 5 p.m.

Oct. 5 Derby, Salina South 5 p.m.

Oct. 9 @ Derby Inv. 9 a.m.

Oct. 12 @ Hutchinson w/Maize South 5 p.m.

Oct. 19 @ Campus w/Andover 5 p.m.

Oct. 23 Sub-State TBA

Oct. 29-30 State @ Tony’s Pizza Event Center, Salina

With four starters back, the Newton High School volleyball team will look to return to state and contend for league competition.

Jamie Dibbens returns for her 15th season as Railer coach. She is 486-155 in her career. She is assisted by Elizabeth Gunn; Ali McCartney, who will lead the junior varsity; and Jennifer Criswell, who will lead the freshman team.

Newton was 23-12 last season, 7-7 in Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I play. Newton downed Andover Central and Andover in sub-state play, but lost to Bishop Carroll in the opening round of Class 5A state play.

Leading the returnees is junior Gracie Rains, a senior outside hitter. Rains had 271 kills with 24 aces, 30 total blocks and 235 digs.

Rains was a second-team all-league selection.

Also back are junior middle blocker Tegan Livesay, junior defensive specialist Olivia Antonowich and sophomore libero Abby Koontz.

Livesay had 36 kills, two aces, 14 total blocks and 22 digs.

Antonowich had 18 kills, 41 aces, 11 assists and 261 digs. Koontz had 24 aces, 254 digs and 12 assists.

Another returning letterwinner is junior middle blocker Lana Mayfield, who had eight kills, 10 total blocks and 10 digs.

Looking to move up to the varsity ranks include sophomore setter and opposite side hitter Emma Rains and junior opposite side hitter Camryn Entz.

A newcomer is sophomore Elena Vanderweg.

“We only have one returning senior to our team so we will be playing with a different look than the past couple of seasons,” Dibbens said. “We will still have some strong hitting options in Gracie Rains and Tegan Livesay. Our defense has really been standing out over the off season with Olivia Antonowich and Abby Koontz. Our setters are young, but very talented.”

Again the Railers will be facing a tough schedule.

“I think our toughest competition will be Maize South and Derby,” Dibbens said. “Hutch is coming in very underrated, but watching them play this summer they are very solid.”

Maize South was fourth in Class 5A state last season. 

She called Wichita Northwest and Washburn Rural the top non-league competition for the Railers. Washburn Rural was third in Class 6A state.

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com