It’s post-season time in the world of high school volleyball and for Class 5A’s eighth-ranked Waukee Warriors, that means a second-round match-up.
The Warriors, 33-11 heading into postseason play, will be battling it out with a familiar foe in Des Moines Lincoln, a team they have already taken on twice this year. The Warriors have bested Lincoln with four-set wins and just one set loss. The Warriors now enter the postseason in a similar fashion the way they did last season but with one slight difference…personnel. All but five of the main core from last year return to lead the Warriors this year. Having said that, new faces have not stopped Waukee from capturing a better record than their state tournament season a year prior.
“We had a strong team last year but this year just feels like we’ve stepped up to a whole new level,” said senior leader Kate Nelson. “While we may have several new faces, hardly anyone is taking the court without some experience under their belts.”
Indeed, the Warrior lineup consists only of juniors and seniors. 15 of the 20 varsity roster spots belong to seniors who have had at least two or more years of competitive volleyball under their belts.
“One of the great things about this group is the many experiences they’ve gained,” began second-year head coach Danielle Lynch. “We may not have girls that have played on this team in particular long, but most have played on club teams and have participated in other offseason work.”
One such new face that has made a big impact is senior Lily Becker. Originally hailing from Kansas City, Becker comes from a strong former high school and personally stems from a strong history in the sport. Becker has been a shining example of how the new faces have impacted the team as she not only leads Waukee, but her 821 assists lead the entire CIML-Iowa landscape.
“Lily has been a huge asset to this team this season,” began coach Lynch. “At the beginning of the season, one of my biggest question marks was about who was going to set for us and she emails me three weeks before the season and she just stepped in and was an instant fit. She is a great overall athlete who knows how to win.”
Becker does come from a strong volleyball background in Olathe Northwest High School in Kansas that has taken two out of the last three Class 6A titles. From her high school to her upbringing, volleyball has practically been ingrained in her DNA.
“My mom played volleyball and it’s been a sport I’ve been playing since I was 13,” said Becker. “It’s been a sport that I’ve loved and am extremely passionate about.”
The Warriors are also armed with veteran stars like Layanna Green who ranks third in the conference with 298 total kills on the season so far. Kate Nelson ranks fourth in the conference with 285 kills. Junior Kori Knox returns stronger than ever and sits second in the conference with 324 total digs.
Waukee now takes on a Des Lincoln squad for their postseason opener which takes place from Waukee Field House beginning at 7 p.m.