Fall preview: Kennedy volleyball
Coach: Laura Beyer
2017: 25-6 overall, (10-2 Tri-River Conference 1st)
Key losses: Hannah Arritola (Second Team All-Conference); Tressa Riedman (Honorable Mention All-Conference)
Key returners: Hallie Sprauer, Sr. (First Team All-State, OH/DS); Hailey Arritola, So. (Second Team All-State, L); Sophia Carley, Jr. (Third Team All-State, MB); Ibeth Gomez (Second Team All-Conference, S)
Outlook: It's a difficult prospect to follow up the best volleyball season in program history only to come out and do even better, but that's just what the Kennedy Trojans have in mind this season.
After last year's team went 25-6 overall and finished third place in the 2A state tournament, the Trojans return all but three players from that 2017 team.
While Kennedy will miss the senior leadership of all-conference seniors Hannah Arritola and Tressa Riedman, along with reserve Kaylee Brown, the Trojans bring back nearly every principal member from last year's impressive state playoff run.
First Team All-State senior Hallie Sprauer gives the Trojans one of the best outside hitters in the state at the 2A level, while Second Team All-State libero Hailey Arritola enjoyed a breakout season in the second half of her freshman year.
With Third Team All-State middle blocker junior Sophia Carley roaming the front line, Kennedy returns a core that rivals just about any other team in the state.
Adding to the mix is returning all-conference setter Ibeth Gomez and strong athletes that include senior Kalyssa Kleinschmit and sophomores Ellie Cantu, Elise Suing and Kelsey Kleinschmit.
While the Trojans are looking to hang another state title to the rafters this season, they'll have stiff competition from within the conference, which welcomes back the Culver Bulldogs, a perennial volleyball power that lost in last year's championship game. The Bulldogs have been to the state championship match three times since 2012 and will loom as the Trojans' biggest obstacle toward not just winning a state title, but winning the Tri-River Conference.