By Beau Wicker Pharos-Tribune
---- — Pioneer’s volleyball team was once again a force to be reckoned with for big and small schools alike.
And leading the way for the Panthers this fall was left-side hitter Sarah Dorris, the 2013 Loganland volleyball player of the year.
The Panthers went 27-10, won their eighth straight sectional title, reclaimed the Midwest Conference crown, split a pair of matches with Logansport and knocked off another strong Class 4A team, Harrison, this season for the first time in school history.
Dorris, a 5-foot-8 junior, has certainly been a key to all of the Panthers’ success the last three years.
“If she can continue to improve this club season she’ll probably be the best player I’ve had here,” Pioneer coach Rod Nies said. “Kattie Lee would have been a great one had she stayed here. Sarah will hands down be the best player all-around. She can literally play every position.
“She had a great year. The good thing is I have her another year. I wish I had her another three years. She has improved a lot every year. She gets twice as good every year. I’m hoping she has another fantastic year next year and can stay healthy.”
Dorris led the Panthers in kills (355), digs (422) and aces (60).
She ranked ninth in kills, 11th in aces and 16th in digs in Class A according to VarVee.com. Dorris was named the Midwest Conference Player of the Year but was snubbed when it came to all-state honors, Nies said.
“She got second-team all-state, which was a slap to her face. There’s probably not a girl in single A that can match her,” he said. “Looking at the list, Indianapolis Lutheran must run the ICGSA because they had two players make the first team and four make the second team and they didn’t even make it to state.”
Nies added Dorris’ stats might be a little low because it took awhile for new managers to get the hang of keeping them accurately.
“She’s a phenomenal athlete and a player that is a lot of fun to watch. She’s a great kid from a great family. Her two older brothers were phenomenal athletes. It runs in the family.”
The Panthers lost in regional play in a five-set heartbreaker at Washington Township that included a controversial call on match point that would have given them the regional title but went against them.
“It was a tough end to the season. I wish we would have gone a lot further,” Dorris said. “Overall I was really happy with everyone and how they played. I couldn’t ask for a better team. I wish we would have pulled through at regionals and honestly thought we should have.”
The Panthers will lose a talented senior class including three starters but will reload for next season.
“I’m looking forward to it a lot,” Dorris said. “We have a bunch of juniors. Next year we’ll have six seniors. We’ve already talked about next season and have had a lot of team bonding. We want a state championship really bad.”
Dorris didn’t go out for basketball this year to concentrate on club volleyball and get ready for what is looking to be a special senior season.
The following are capsules of the rest of this year’s All-Loganland volleyball team.
Bethany Brogdon, Winamac
The 5-5 senior was the Warriors’ starting libero the last two seasons. She posted 641 digs this year for 18-15 Winamac, which ranked her third in Class 2A and seventh in the entire state according to VarVee.com.
“She is a very good athlete, starting and playing volleyball, basketball and softball,” Winamac coach Cathy DeFries said. “Her athleticism makes her a great defensive player. She has great instincts and can read hitters very well. She led the state in digs in 2A volleyball for a part of the season and finished in the top 10. She led our team in digs and was second in serve attempts (393) and aces (36). She was a great leader for us as a lone senior. She was very fun to watch and made some amazing saves this year defensively.”
Syd Bullard, Logansport
Bullard, a 5-9 junior, floored 388 kills for a Berries squad that went 19-14 this season. She ranked sixth in Class 4A in kills according to VarVee.com.
She also finished third on the team in digs (197) and added 25 aces.
“She had a good offensive season of course with 388 kills,” Logan coach Jon Vernon said. “I thought she had a good season offensively.”
Lindsey Cheney, Logansport
Cheney, a 5-5 senior, was the Berries’ starting libero and led them with 378 digs on the season, which ranked her 14th in Class 4A on VarVee.com.
“She had a 41 dig game against Maconaquah,” Vernon said. “For a good stretch of time there she was pretty well unstoppable in the back row and got to everything.”
Katie Easter, Logansport
The 5-5 junior started the season at defensive specialist before moving to setter about midway through. She finished first on the team in aces (56) and second in digs (207) and assists (530).
“I really thought at the end of the season she was a leader after having to change roles and switch positions,” Vernon said. “She was probably our best leader at the end of the season.
“She was voted as our MVP by the other players on the team.”
Haley Hoover, Caston
The 5-8 senior had 146 kills, 71 aces and 347 digs for the 8-23 Comets this season.
“She was a great leader throughout the season,” Caston coach Taylor McFarland said. “She has awesome potential to play outside of high school. All the way around she was our go-to player — serving, passing, hitting, stepping in on a second ball and setting it up. She’s an all-around good player and good girl, the type of person you want on your team.”
Riley Morris, Pioneer
The 5-6 senior helped set up the success for the Panthers. She led the team in assists (513) and added 123 digs and 39 aces.
“We run a 6-2 offense so she set half the time and still had 513 assists,” Nies said. “She had 277 service points which was second on the team. She had 123 digs. She did a lot of things in the rotation. When she was setting the team was really stabilized. She did a nice job leading the team and did what you expect out of a senior leader. She did a great job.”
Hannah Tevis, Pioneer
The 6-foot middle hitter stepped up big her junior season. She led the team in blocks (112) and was second in kills (304).
“She’s a load,” Nies said.
The Panthers’ 1-2 punch of Dorris and Tevis will be back next season and Nies is looking for more success.
“Our schedule is probably in the top 5 as far as difficulty in single A. The schedule we played this year was brutal. Out of our 10 losses virtually every loss we could have won those matches had we come to play or got a break here or there.”
Kassi Zeck, Cass
Zeck, a 5-1 senior, was the starting libero for the Kings and had 381 digs on the season, which ranks her 15th in Class 2A on VarVee.com.
“She’s another high energy kid,” Cass coach Gretchen Crum said. “She’s one that if she shanks the ball, she’s ‘oh my gosh, I want to fix it.’ She’s very intense, very aggressive. That’s a Zeck trait.
“She was very dedicated to the team and did things all team-oriented. She did not like to lose. No one likes to lose but she really did not like to lose.”
Zeck served at 91.7 percent and had 19 aces this season.
“She really worked hard this year to develop a good serve and she did,” Crum said. “Last year she served some but not a whole lot. This year she served as a ‘bero and worked hard on her jump serve and got it down.
“She’s a drum major and spent a lot of time with that but I appreciated her coming in and practicing hard every practice. And that’s really hard to do. She’s one of the best passers I’ve seen at Cass.”
w/ breakout 2013 All-Loganland volleyball team Bethany Brogdon, Winamac Syd Bullard, Logansport Lindsey Cheney, Logansport Sarah Dorris, Pioneer Katie Easter, Logansport Haley Hoover, Caston Riley Morris, Pioneer Hannah Tevis, Pioneer Kassi Zeck, Cass Honorable mention: Cass -- Claire Crum, Gabi Hartley; Caston -- Mickayla Rans, Jacqueline Rans; Logan -- Hannah Jones; Pioneer -- Megan Smith; Winamac -- Taylor Jones.