King’s embraces challenge of defending state title | Volleyball

Knights return core of last year’s squad
By David Pan | Sep 06, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan King’s Dominique Kirton prepares to smash the ball during a scrimmage at King’s High School.

King’s heads into the 2018-19 season with high expectations.

The Knights return the core of the squad that won the school’s third state volleyball championship last season.

But whatever pressure King’s is feeling to defend its 1A title is being channeled in a way that benefits the team.

“I feel that we do have some pressure,” said junior Alli Hansen, who earned 1A state MVP honors. “I think we’re turning that into good energy, the energy that pumps us up.”

Senior Dominique Kirton agrees that the Knights are embracing the challenge of winning another state championship.

“It’s a good pressure. I don’t think it’s a negative energy,” Kirton said. “It’s the kind of pressure that allows us to work harder. It’s not going to be nearly as easy as it was last year. It’s always going to be harder the second time around.”

The Knights graduated three starters from a year ago, including their all-league setter, Tessa Foley. Two other seniors came off the bench.

Junior Ava Mason is stepping into the setter role.

“She’s been with the team before. She’s able to work really well with us,” Kirton said. “She gets how we work.”

The King’s offense looks as imposing as ever with outside hitters Kirton, Hansen and senior Baily McCutchen.

“Those three are dynamic,” new head coach Bart Foley said.

The Knights will have two weeks of nonconference match-ups before their first league contest against Granite Falls on Tuesday, Sept. 18. A number of last year’s junior varsity players and a freshman were added to the roster.

“We definitely have a lot of new girls,” Hansen said. “Right now we are starting to come together. But it’s going to take some time for us all to click.”

Last year’s success can be traced to the strong bond that developed among the players.

“Our team chemistry really brought us the whole way,” Kirton said. “It didn’t take very long for us to click super well. It was something that happened. It wasn’t forced. We blended really well as a team.”

Foley was an assistant coach when the Knights won back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009.

“It was a difficult road,” said Foley, who is entering his 11th year with the program. “There’s the tendency to feel like you’ve arrived … Maybe there’s a little complacency. We’re guarding against that already and applying those lessons.”

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