Following El Dorado’s first state volleyball tournament appearance since 1985, former head coach Chelsea Helena announced that the 2017 season would be her last as head coach of the Wildcats.

This year, the Wildcats will be coached by El Dorado alumnus Alyssa Rawlings, who graduated from El Dorado in 2011, before playing volleyball at Butler and Friends University.

Rawlings coached the El Dorado freshman team in 2015 and the Circle middle school team in 2016.

Coming off of a state tournament season, the Wildcats return several key players from last season and will look to carry that momentum into this season.

“Of course the goal is to return to state, but my goal for them is to actually play as a family instead of just saying it,” said Rawlings.

“I want them to actually walk the walk and talk the talk.”

Carly Clennan played in the middle for the Wildcats last season, but Rawlings is considering moving her to the outside this season. Lexee Hughey and Mara Stewart were also key factors in the Wildcats making the trip to the state tournament last season.

Jamison McCaig contributed as a freshman last season, but will take on a bigger role this season. Ellie Higgins will also step into a more important role this season, according to Rawlings.

With the Wildcats season-opener right around the corner, the team is still working hard to prepare for competition.

“We need to work on our passing. I was a libero in college, so I pride myself on being able to teach defense really well. If we can improve our passing, that will make our setters job much easier and that way we can utilize the great hitters that we have,” said Rawlings.

El Dorado opens the 2018 season at the Winfield tournament on Saturday, Aug. 25.

If the Wildcats were to qualify for a second consecutive state tournament, they would play at Hutchinson Community College on Oct. 26-27. Due to the reclassification of KSHSAA member schools, class 4A will no longer be separated into 4A-I and 4A-II.