September 24, 2013 was a big night for the Rose Hill volleyball team. The Rockets were dominated in the first set 25-15, and were in a big 9-3 hole in the second against McPherson. And then something happened. Rose Hill found its courage and determination to come back, miraculously winning a season altering match.
“It was probably one of the best feelings I have ever gotten to experience,” said Haley Slade who was a junior starter on that team. “That win gave us motivation for the rest of the season. Every game after that was, ‘Let’s play this game like we played the McPherson game.’ That was just our drive for the rest of the season.”
Fueled by the momentum of that win, the Rockets went on to win 17 of their next 21 matches going into the state tournament where they finished fourth. Two of Rose Hill’s four losses in that stretch came against teams the Rockets went on to beat in later matches.
According to head coach Melissa Segovia, the success last year came from one thing.
“Everyone getting on the same page,” said Segovia. “Unfortunately it doesn’t always start that way, and finally we were able to come together, get some leadership, finally decided that we did have a common goal and we wanted that goal.”
All but three other teams in the state would rather finish in fourth place than where they ended up. But for Rose Hill, there were three other spots the Rockets would rather be, leaving unfinished business in 2014.
And with some strong returning senior leadership, Rose Hill is putting in the work early for an even better season this year focusing on the same thing.
“We have been working harder than we did at any time last year,” said senior setter Kynnedy Myers. “And we are already looking better. We are not changing our goals this year.”
Myers has been the varsity setter since she was a sophomore. She has been a part of some incredible Rose Hill teams in her varsity career and has never missed out on the final Saturday of the season in that time. But one thing Myers has never done is get a win in the semifinals to earn the right to play for a title.
She sees the potential in this season’s team to be able to get over that hurdle.
“It is going to be a little different this year because I’m the setter and I have a ton of awesome hitters,” said Myers. “I don’t have one that is dominating. So it is going to be better for me actually because I am going to be able to move the ball around. I think we are going to be more successful because of that.”
Slade and Myers will have plenty of familiar help in classmates Madison Degnan and Brooke Wheeler. Degnan is a returning starter, and Wheeler won a varsity letter last year. Anna Van Driel is a sophomore to look out for this season for Rose Hill after winning a varsity letter as a freshman last season.
The team will need each other as it rolls through another season filled with plenty of peril.
“We just know there is nothing guaranteed,” said Segovia. “You always have to work for everything. It doesn’t matter what the night is. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is. We do have a very strong league. It is important that we get ready for that every single night.”
However Slade is not worried about the effort she has seen from her teammates as they get ready for the season.
“I think this year to work toward our goal again we are going to have to keep putting in the effort and get used to having some different girls on the court,” said Slade. “But I think it will be really great. We have a lot of hard workers this season and people are ready to get things done.”