Tori Miller keeps Derby volleyball energized
Firecracker was the word Derby volleyball coach Shelby Kraus used when describing senior Tori Miller.
“But her fuse never goes out,” Kraus said. “From Set 1 to the 16th set of (a tournament), she was 100 percent. Go, go, go. Even in practice. Every day.
“She keeps the energy up on the whole team, and now with her being a senior and captain, they don’t want to disappoint Tori in her senior year.”
Miller, who has made an oral commitment to play at Kansas, led Derby in digs and assists while playing in the Panthers’ 6-2 offense in 2012. The Panthers are running a 5-1 offense with sophomore Katie Jorn in part to utilize Miller even more offensively and defensively.
“Tori is so smart at the net,” Kraus said. “She sees the court really well.”
Derby opened its season at 5-3, losing to Eisenhower, Valley Center and Maize in the Aug. 31 Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League tournament.
It was a rough start, but the Panthers had adversity before the season started, losing senior middle Kenzie Holcomb, who has made an oral commitment to sign at Kansas State, and sophomore outside Riley Spainhour, who played as a freshman.
Derby has two seniors, Miller and Kylee Sheldon, three juniors (Kenzie Brown, Baylee Gee, Reagan Newhouse), three sophomores (Jorn, Kenzie Young, Abby Elder) and a freshman, Nia Bishop, whose dad, Michael, was Kansas State’s quarterback in the late 1990s.
Derby doesn’t have a powerful offensive game as it had in past years, but the defense has made up for that.
“We’re pretty scrappy, and normally we’re not a very scrappy team,” Kraus said. “We’ll make good offensive plays and … if we can block, it can be enough.”
Running it right — Hesston senior setter Megan Voth is running a 5-1 offense for the second straight year, but at 5-foot-5, there initially was concern defensively about her rotations at the net.
“I was a little concerned … that we would get killed by an outside hitter when she was in the front row,” said Hesston coach Jason Peters, whose team is 8-1. “It never happened.”
Voth was named the MaxPreps/AVCA high school player of the week for Kansas after leading the Swathers to a 4-1 record in the Central Kansas League tournament. She had 107 assists, 20 kills, nine aces and five blocks.
Voth is athletic, which is key as she chases down what might normally be an overpass or a ball that would go into the net.
“She anticipates and jump sets or saves balls that would normally be a point for the other team,” Peters said. “She anticipates where the passes will go, and she’s very quick. She gets to a lot of balls all over the court.”
Her athleticism also helps her in running an even quicker Hesston offense.
“There’s the timing, knowing each hitter would like a set a little bit different,” Peters said. “The taller hitters, they want it in a little different place, and it’s just communicating and know what each hitter is going to hit on a given play.”
Voth has an advantage in that she can set to any one of Hesston’s hitters. Hesston only has seven players in its rotation, but Voth is not locked into only setting senior outside Ali Jost, who had 334 kills in 2012.
She also can set up middles Hannah Schmitt and Kelsey Unruh, outsides Cami Richardson and right side Jessanna Nebel.
“Our five hitters can be set and counted on,” Peters said. “We can get a kill at any time. We haven’t had that in the past. Usually we rely on two or three hitters to carry us, but this year it’s been balanced.”