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After late injuries to two key starters, the Shelby-Rising City volleyball team saw its season come to a premature end in the sub-district tournament on Oct. 28 during a 3-0 sweep at the hands of Aquinas Catholic. 

The Huskies finished the year 11-19, short of preseason goals, but also short of a full lineup. Two starters suffered a head-to-head collision a week earlier during the Crossroads Conference Tournament and forced last-minute adjustments.

Perhaps with another week of training in new responsibilities and new roles, the Huskies could have advanced further. Unfortunately, now they'll never know.

"(The injuries) challenged us to recreate and fill those positions and get a new rotation down to routine in a short time span," SRC head coach Makenzi Kuhnel said in comments. "With this, it pushed to provide motivation, energy, and encouragement as we prepared for those matches and as we go into next season." 

Shelby-Rising City started the season out 1-6, but turned it around and went 10-9 in its next 19 games before losing the last four games of the season. 

The Huskies earned a win over High Plains (16-14) and picked up a a win in the Crossroads Conference Tournament over Dorchester. 

Senior Kamryn Pokorney led the squad in kills with 281 and blocks with 70 while serving 29 aces. 

Sophomore Jordie Nekl served a team-high 34 aces and finished with 276 digs. 

Senior Jayce Vrbka led Shelby-Rising City in assists with 436. 

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"The group of athletes that we had on the floor this year have large amounts of talent. This season, however, that talent wasn't always shown in each match we took part in," Kuhnel said. "It was more of a roller coaster effect, but I also look at it as we have a very short statured team.

"So, on the backside of things, we saw great strides and improvements throughout the season, and willingness out of the players we had filling in to really step up." 

Junior Reece Ingalls finished the season with 207 kills, 18 aces, 15 blocks and 230 digs. 

"Reece Ingalls was a primary stand out in my eyes all season long," Kuhnel said. "She was a returning junior this season, playing all the way around as an outside. Reece was our most consistent attacker in the front row this season, averaging 10-13 kills a match. She also passed a 2.4 passing average on serve receive for us.

"Reece always has a great attitude on the court, pushes to be successful, and is one of those athletes that coaches look at as easily adaptable. I really look forward to pushing the growth she made this year into next, and seeing her improve as a senior." 

The loss to Aquinas in the first round of the C2-6 sub-district tournament in Wahoo served as the final match for six seniors - Stephanie Smith, Jade Obershaw, Emily Godejohn, Vrbka, Clare Kohl and Pokorney. 

"Being successful is not measured just by your record, but is the time together, the dedication, improving fundamentals and becoming true teammates that support one another day in and day out," Kuhnel said.

Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at DVDsports@lee.net

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