Wellington volleyball has expectations to make the state tournament with a senior-heavy team

Greg Williams
Wellington Daily News
Wellington volleyball at 4A Sub-State Tournament

Last season it was all about growing as a team for the Crusaders. 

This season the expectations are different. Wellington has hopes of finishing towards the top of the Kansas 4A league and making a state tournament appearance. 

The Crusaders finished with a 9-21 record last season but were able to win a playoff matchup against Mulvane before losing in the finals to Clearwater in the 4A Sub-State.

"We started out pretty slow last year," said head coach Audrey Gill. "By the end of the season, we beat teams that we had previously lost to and played several hard teams very competitively. We're really excited for this year's season."

The Crusaders had seven out of their eight varsity players see a significant amount of playing time and have gained the experience heading into this season. Wellington lost three seniors due to graduation, but many of the players are eager to fill the role.

Senior Ali Zeka has the most experience out of any of the returning starters. She is the only four-year varsity letter on the roster and was awarded post-season accolades. She also lead the team in kills last season. 

Freshman Brittan Zeka, sister of Ali, will be one of those players looking to fill one of those roles. This will be the only season the Zeke sisters will play together in high school. Brittan will be joined by Ella Goodrum as the only freshman on the varsity roster.

Wellington will also be getting senior Airlyn Frame this season. Frame played for the Crusaders here freshman year and transferred out. She came back her junior year, but according to the KSHSAA transfer rules, Frame was unable to compete. 

Other members of the varsity roster include seniors Nikki Peninger, Sadie Glover, and Brooklyn Cunningham, juniors Ashlee Peninger and Shiney Hughes, then the only sophomore is Katelyn Kessler. 

"Last year's loss in the finals of Sub-State left a bad taste in our mouth and questions," said Gill. "This year we have a daily commitment to owning the pressure and being better."

The Crusaders were supposed to begin their season on Saturday, Aug. 28 at Winfield, but it was affected by the temporary closure. Wellington will also miss their volleyball match on Tuesday, Aug. 2

As of now, Wellington will have their first match at home at 5 p.m. against Wichita Collegiate and Rose Hill.