VOLLEYBALL: Kankakee expects continued improvement
With volleyball season peeking around the corner, all local teams are getting ready for what they hope will be a successful year at the net.
Here’s a look at Kankakee as the countdown to the first serve of the season begins to heat up.
Head coach: Dennis Pommier, second season
2017 record: 16-18
2017 postseason finish: 2-0 loss (25-7, 25-20) to Coal City in Class 3A regional quarterfinal
The period of unfamiliarity between head coach Dennis Pommier and Kankakee’s volleyball program has come to an end.
Now, it’s time for the Kays to start winning regularly.
In his first year at the helm of the program, Pommier led Kankakee to a 16-win season. Now that expectations have been established, you can expect more of the same — and then some — from the Kays this fall.
“We’ve hit the ground running this summer,” Pommier said. “I know them, they know me. The little things like getting the net set up on time, wearing the right clothes to school ... all those things are now secondary. We now have rules established and we can focus on winning and playing volleyball.”
Four seniors decorate Kankakee’s roster, starting with sisters Adilene and Ashley Pereda. Adilene tallied 33 kills, 98 digs and 161 assists in 2017. Ashley recorded 177 digs in the back row.
Pommier expects a mix of production and leadership out of each.
“Adilene was a first-team all-conference and first-team all-area selection last season,” Pommier said. “Ashley split time at libero but her hitting percentage has been high all summer. So she’ll see a lot of time on the left side.”
Fellow seniors Sierra Anderson and Sophie Arseneau will also be big pieces of the puzzle.
“Sierra split time setting last year and has missed four to five weeks this summer with a concussion. So we’re trying to find a spot for her. She’ll definitely be serving. She served 90 percent last year,” Pommier said. “Sophie didn’t play as a junior but she’ll be out there swinging again.”
Also returning is junior Aareashia Dabney, who led the team in kills last fall with 69 alongside 20 blocks and 51 digs.
“She’s a left side player and was also second in blocks,” Pommier said of Dabney. “She served 85 percent and has some size at 5-foot-11. She’s got great reach and, if we get her swinging tough, she’s a load.”
Pommier also made mention of juniors Linda Guzman and Makayla Mondy, as well as sophomore Hailey Lamie.
“Linda is a very good server. She needs some experience but she’s been working hard and that’s commendable,” he said. “Hailey is a tough player and will play good defense. She’s a tough-nosed player and is always first in the door and last to leave. If we’re going to be successful, we’ll need Makayla to hit and block with authority all season.”
The Kays begin their season Aug. 20 against Cissna Park at the Timberwolves’ hosted Tip-Off Tournament.
“We’re going to have to serve 90 percent to specific zones to be successful,” Pommier said. “We’ll get better everyday. It might take us a week or two to find a lineup that’s the most consistent. But our goal is to win the conference and, right now, winning a regional title is an attainable goal.”