Volleyball team strives to build tradition
Stutler wants to play off athletes’ strengths
If things go as planned for Eudora High School first year volleyball coach Jill Stutler, the Cardinals will be a 4A version of their 6A neighbors at Lawrence High School.
Stutler, who played at Baker University and coached the Wildcats for six seasons, saw enough potential in Eudora that she wanted to build a volleyball program with her own mark on it. After two years as the head coach for Perry-Lecompton High School, Stutler served as Eudora's junior varsity coach last season. The varsity team finished 13-18 and 2-7 in the Frontier League under former coach Brian Kraus. Joining Stutler's staff will be junior varsity coach Erin Barnett and coaches Stacy Coulter and Kathy Kellerman.
"We have a lot of talent here and the administrative support is great," Stutler said. "There is a lot of potential with the skill level here. We are trying to build a tradition like Lawrence High School by assembling players through junior high and high school. We have a very disciplined, hard work approach at things."
Stutler plans on trying some new things with the Eudora team which should improve team unity.
"We're trying new things, offensive and defensive schemes this season," Stutler said. "We are going to have a lot of youth and enthusiasm carrying us. We will be a defensive-orientated team."
The Cardinals return seniors Jill Woodward and Brandi Abel and sophomore Lauren Kracl from last year's varsity squad. Several players from Stutler's junior varsity team will be making the step up along with their coach this season. Seniors Brandi Hime, Lacy Deathe, Sheena Warrington, Kendall Hudson, juniors Jenny Durkin and Tina Lauber as well as sophomore Nicole Born will be on the Cardinal's varsity roster this season.
Stutler said she expects big things from her returning varsity athletes and a few of the newcomers from junior varsity. With her new plan, Stutler hopes to utilize a lot of her athletes in different roles. Setters Abel, Hime and Warrington will have to play well for the team to be competitive in the Frontier League, Stutler said.
"Jill Woodward will be helping our blocking scheme and adding depth offensively and we will switch Lauren Kracl to the outside for blocking and hitting." Stutler said. "Jenny Durkin can be a dominating force in the middle with her blocking and hitting."
Stutler said the Frontier League will be difficult as usual with strong programs like Anderson County, Baldwin, Gardner-Edgerton and Paola. Since Frontier League games are highly contested, Stutler said unity will be important during league matchups.
"It could go either way with anyone in the league," Stutler said. "We want to be more of a team than a bunch of individuals on the court."
Lauber said the Cardinals are showing signs of improvement and will contend in many of their games.
"I think we'll have a pretty good season because of the way the practices are going and (Stutler's) coaching style," Lauber said.
Stutler said the McLouth, Wellsville and Perry-Lecompton tournaments should help the team gain experience and improve their standing. Stutler said the return trip to Perry-Lecompton will be special for her.
"It makes it a little bit harder to play (at P-L)," Stutler said. "Both teams will have something to prove."