After leading her Buccaneers to postseason runs in each of her first two seasons at Blinn College, volleyball coach Kalie Mader is looking for her third season to be the charm in 2017.
"We always are striving to get better and are going to continue to build and compete at a higher level," Mader said.
The Buccaneers have reached the Region XIV Conference Championships in both seasons since Mader took the reins of the program, including a trip to the NJCAA Division I National Championships in 2015.
"Volleyball is a very fluid sport, so if you are good at defense, then odds of you being better at offense are higher," Mader said. "We spend equal amount of time on both offense and defense, and I think our strength will be how well we play together and what kind of chemistry we can come up with." The Buccaneers return four players from last season and have added nine newcomers to the roster.
The four sophomores returning with Region XIV tournament experience are Kylee Kaaihue (Honolulu, Hawaii), Kayla Valigura (Hallettsville), Amina Olajuwon (Huntsville), and Paola Marie Salas Adorno (Puerto Rico).
"We have four kids who worked really hard last spring and then chose to come back and work hard again," Mader said. "All four of them saw significant game play, so we are really excited about that."
Returning middle blockers Valigura and Olajuwon started for the Buccaneers as freshmen, and each picked up all-conference honors. Valigura is coming off a 2016 season with 128 kills, 29 digs, and 116 block assists, while Olajuwon posted 148 kills, 37 digs and 99 block assists.
Adorno will anchor the offense with her experience as a starting outside hitter. She ranked second on the team as a freshman with 365 kills, third on the team with 336 digs, and served up 28 aces to pick up first team all-conference honors. Adorno tied the Blinn all-time record for kills in a match with 26.
Kylee Kaaihue will bring experience to the setter position after playing in 81 sets as a freshman. She recorded 546 assists, 97 digs, 17 block assists, and 29 kills.
There will be nine incoming freshmen sporting a Buccaneer uniform this season. Sheridan Garcia (Gilroy, Calif.), Samantha Boatman (Houston), and Roxanne Morris (Goliad) are coming in after winning high school state championships. Garcia and Morris will play outside hitter, while Boatman will join Kaaihue in the setter position.
Incoming freshman Mikayla Adam (Australia) and Claire Chapman (Tarkington) will play outside hitter. Adam played for the national team in Australia, while Chapman earned all-state and Under Armour All-America honors in high school.
Karlyn Dean arrives as a utility player after being named the district's MVP server and starting all four years in high school, along with setter Darian Ibarra (Mission) after reaching the postseason all four years as a high school starter.
The Buccaneers finished with an 18-22 record last season.
About Blinn College
With an enrollment of 19,422 students, Blinn ranks among the nation's leaders in transferring students to leading four-year universities and has received national recognition for affordable educational excellence. For more information, visit www.blinn.edu.