Butler Community College volleyball continue to turn the corner in the right direction

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
The Butler Grizzlies volleyball team huddle after winning a point against Colby on Wednesday, Sept. 1 at the Power Plant in El Dorado, Kansas.

EL DORADO — A lot has changed in the time since Butler CC head coach Lisa Lechtenberg took over the reigns of the women's volleyball team. 

Two major changes? The culture, which has led to the second major change: They're winning. 

Butler heads into the weekend with a 7-2 record for the second straight season but the team's ability to build the culture coach Lechtenberg has been wanting to put together has helped. 

"It's not easy to do [at the junior college level]," Lechtenberg said. "Its about our girls being bought in and having the want to do better."

It starts with getting the right players and coach Lechtenberg has hit the state of Kansas hard. During her fours years at the Power Plant, she's recruited 43 of 55 players from the state of Kansas. That's helped the Grizzlies turn into a quality program who has earned the respect of the top quality programs from around the country.

"We are a junior college in Kansas, and ultimately our goal is to get the best Kansas kids that we possibly could get at our level," Lechtenberg said. "You know, Kansas is a pretty good volleyball state, so why not keep what we can close."

For Lechtenberg is was always about the right timing. She had talked to previous coach Rick Younger but it was never the right time. While she's been a Division I coach she was an El Dorado native through and through. She coached high school and middle school volleyball for El Dorado but it was the community college that came calling and she finally answered.

The tide is changing for the Grizzlies as they are receiving votes in the most recent NJCAA poll and while the Grizzlies are focused on their larger goal, it is being noticed by other programs. No more emailing schools to see if they have a spot in their tournament, they are now being invited because of their quality.

This sophomore class that has seen their season postponed and shortened have stuck together. With players like Carly Clennan (El Dorado, Kansas), Jaryn Benning (Topeka, Kansas), Kayli Duncan (Wichita, Kansas), Caitlyn Rexroat (Lansing, Kansas) and Sydney Morrow (Viola, Kansas), the Grizzlies have built a core that holds each other accountable and knows what it takes to succeed in an always tough Jayhawk Conference. 

"They really make it easy on me as a coach," Lechtenberg said. "They fix their on mistakes. I can trust them to adjust and make the right play."

Benning agreed and said you can see players who may not have been here last year buy into what the Grizzlies are building.

"You can see it on their face, they know they messed up and want to get better," Bennign said. "We have really good leadership with players like Carly and Caitlyn being captains this year. They've done a great job leading everyone and just kind of letting me relax."

Another hump was removed for the Grizzlies during this season as they beat Colby for only the fourth time since 2014. Butler used the energy from a crowded Power Plant on Wednesday, Sept. 1 to sweep the Trojans, 3-0. 

They went to Iowa and knocked off a couple of nationally ranked teams and that's a reason why they're receiving votes.

For Butler, they're good but "how good?" is the remaining question on the expectatiosn going forward.

"We say we have expectations not rules," Lechtenberg said. "We need to be held accountable for our expectations."

Charles Chaney has been the Sports Editor for the Butler County Times-Gazette since Aug. 2019. You can reach him at cchaney@butlercountytimesgazette.com or on Twitter at @ChuckChaneyBCTG.

Sydney Morrow