Young Lady Rams set for second season under Slater

Jason Brown
The Leavenworth Times
Shown is Pleasant Ridge sophomore Emily Langely. Langley was a first-team all Northeast Kansas League selection in her freshman season and marks one of two key returners for the Lady Rams.

Julie Slater is back for another season at the helm of Pleasant Ridge's volleyball team after coming out of a brief retirement last year to fill the empty position. 

Slater indicated that she had taken the job with a commitment for just the 2020 season but is back with the Lady Rams after a successful first year. Slater is one of just two coaches in Kansas high school volleyball history to record over 1,000 wins. According to the Kansas Volleyball Association, Slater trails Gwen Pike by just 200 wins for the all-time record.

The Lady Rams are coming off a 20-11 season that saw them finish in a tie for second in the Northeast Kansas League with a record of 10-5. Pleasant Ridge opened the season 4-3 before reeling off 12 consecutive wins. Unfortunately, a tough 4-8 stretch during the back half of the season left a sour taste in the team's mouth. 

"The girls did strength and conditioning and open gyms in the offseason," Slater said. "We also placed third at our 8 team varsity camp."

Pleasant Ridge senior Kelsey Theis marks the second first-team all-NEKL selection returning for the Lady Rams this season.

Pleasant Ridge will have senior leadership at a key position with Kelsey Theis  – first-team All-NEKL in 2020 – in the libero role. The Lady Rams will have another first-team All-NEKL selection back in the middle in sophomore Emily Langley. 

Beyond Theis and Langley, the remainder of the varsity squad will be made up of underclassmen.

Slater said sophomore setter Kelsi Ko will be responsible for running the offense. Sophomores Ava Potter and Selah Worsham (transferred from Benton High School) will line up at outside hitter. Sophomore Mia Ernzen and freshman Bela Major will be at middle hitter while sophomore Emma Murphy takes the right side. Sophomore Maddie Heim is slated to be the team's defensive specialist. 

"This group of girls works really hard and all have great attitudes," Slater said. "I just am looking forward to a great season."

Pleasant Ridge opened its season Tuesday with matches against Maur Hill and Jefferson County North. Results were not available by press deadline. The Lady Rams will have to wait a week until their home opener against Jackson Heights and Valley Falls, scheduled for Tuesday.