KINGSBURG - After coming close to a Valley Championship appearance last year, the Kingsburg volleyball team has set high expectations for themselves by vying for a Central Section title this season.
“Just believing that we could do it,” senior middle blocker Oliva Doyle said. “I think we had a rough mentality last year, but I think this year we could pull it off.”
As the No. 2 seed, Kingsburg was eliminated from the Central Section Division IV semifinals with a 3-0 loss to eventual champion Chowchilla, who were the No. 3 seed of the bracket. It was the second-straight year that the Vikings were eliminated from the semifinals. In 2017, Kingsburg fell 3-1 to 5-seeded Immanuel, who eventually won the Division IV championship that season.
Doyle was part of both teams that suffered heartbreak in the semifinals.
Entering her senior season, Doyle said she and the team’s other seniors don’t want to fall short again.
“We’re tired of that, we don’t want to lose in the semis again,” Doyle said. “Being seniors, this is our last chance.”
Outside hitter Jennah Torres - the Vikings’ kills leader last season - said this year’s squad has “what it takes” to contend for a Valley title.
“We need to be more mentally prepared because we know what’s coming now,” Torres said. “We just need to work harder than we did last year to be able to make it to that Valley game.”
According to MaxPreps, Torres recorded 253 kills last season while Doyle was fourth on the team at 130. Other notable returners include Cambria Brandon (123 kills in 2018) and Ally Cotton (121).
Last season, Kingsburg went 25-14 overall and 8-4 in Central Sequoia League play. The Vikings’ 8-4 CSL mark was good enough for a second place tie with Central Valley Christian, who swept the season series against Kingsburg last year. The Vikings’ 25-win mark was the second most of any CSL team, the first being Exeter, who went 35-11 overall and 12-0 in CSL play a year ago.
This year, Kingsburg will be one of two CSL teams in Division IV while the Monarchs were moved up to Division I and CVC will compete in Division II. Dinuba, Hanford West and Immanuel are placed in Division III while Selma moved up to Division IV after appearing in the Division V championship game last year
In her second year as Kingsburg’s head coach, Brittany Henderson expects another competitive CSL slate, which could prepare the Vikings for a deep playoff run.
“I love our league because it’s tough,” Henderson said. “The conference that I came from previously, being in the TRAC [Tri-River Athletic Conference], there was no night off. I found that it’s very similar here, which is good.”
“It’s constantly going to be a battle.”
The Vikings will officially begin its season at home against Mt. Whitney on Aug. 20 at 6 p.m. After, Kingsburg will take on the Tulare Western Mustangs on the road on Aug. 22. The Vikings will open CSL play at home against Immanuel on Sept. 10.