Young Lady Pioneers team ready to take the court

Jason Brown
The Leavenworth Times

Leavenworth volleyball will take the court Tuesday to kick off the regular season with a much different roster than last season. The Lady Pioneers lost five seniors to graduation last season, meaning at least half the squad will be newcomers in one form or another.

The Lady Pioneers went 9-16 overall and 1-4 in the United Kansas Conference last season with their season ending in the sub-state tournament against Lansing. 

"During the offseason I had a decent amount of girls come to workouts," head coach Alexis Shepherd said. "We attended the Lansing team camp and as always, the competition was great. It highlighted some things we needed to work on."

"We do not have a lot of size so we need to work hard defensively," Shepherd said. "Hopefully we can work to have some of our front row players touch balls to help the back row."

Despite the turnover caused by graduation, Leavenworth will have a couple of returners with plenty of experience in senior Zoe Green and sophomore Emma Kenny.

"Both players are strong hitters," she said of Green and Kenny. "My goal is to have them hitting more balls in play consistently."

Senior Misty DeLeon marks the only other senior on the Lady Pioneers' roster and she will lead the defensive unit along with sophomores Jada Eagle and Izzy Garcia. 

Shepherd said they also got a couple of impactful transfers in sophomore Sarah Ward (Kirksville) and freshman Danielle Runnebaum (Lansing). 

"She (Runnebaum) is a strong middle hitter," Shepherd said of the transfers. "We got pretty lucky by getting her. She will be a great addition to our team, and I'm expecting great things from her. Both girls have great size and will help in the front row by blocking or slowing some balls down to help our back row."

The Lady Pioneers will have plenty of tests this season with regular-season matchups against Lansing and Saint Thomas Aquinas as well as tournaments at Shawnee Mission Northwest, Emporia and Louisburg.

"I'm looking forward to great things from this group of girls," she said. "They work very hard and get along very well with each other."

Leavenworth opens the regular season Tuesday with a triangular match at Shawnee Mission Northwest also including Mill Valley. The Lady Pioneers are scheduled to host Paola in their home-opening match at 6 p.m. Thursday.