December 6, 2011
Greensburg Daily News
Greensburg — South Decatur senior Kassie Diekhoff joined four other seniors this year with one goal in mind - to advance in the sectional tournament and bring back the championship trophy to Decatur County.
Along with Diekhoff, seniors Michaela Johnson, Elizabeth Nobbe, Keri Deck and Jesse Walls were juniors when South advanced to the sectional final against Rising Sun.
Returning home with the title was destined to cap off their careers.
"This was the time to get it," said Diekhoff, South's team captain and hitter. "The whole team knew this year was our chance. We wanted to win a lot of games, but our main goal was to compete the most and play our best in the tournament."
South graduated four seniors last season, including Ashleigh Ewing, Katie Mote, Jamie Johannigman and Taylor Nolting. Diekhoff said the leadership and versatility South lost had been renewed as the team came into its own.
"We gained it back after a while," she said.
One challenge the seniors faced, according to Diekhoff, was the fact that they entered the season being accustomed primarily to hitting roles. Ewing was the leading setter, Mote and Nolting played libero and defensive specialist, and Johannigman was a middle hitter last year.
"We had all hitters," said Diekhoff. "We had to get used to being in the back row. We had a lot of changes this season."
As this season progressed, though, everyone became familiar with their positions and the team started to gel. Diekhoff noted that nobody demanded the label as the team 'star.'
"We didn't have any outstanding players," she said. "We had a lot of talent this year."
Diekhoff led South in hits and attempts (562-for-644, 87 percent) and recorded a team-best 148 kills. She also attempted 976 passes and successfully made 1,113 (both team-bests), for 87.7 percent. Her 250 digs also led the team.
Diekhoff's serving game contributed to the Cougar scoring as she tallied a team-high 41 service aces. Her attempts (270) and successful serves (297) both ranked second on the team.
Among her other stats: setting 92-for-99 (93 percent), 4 assists; blocking 29-for-43 (67.4 percent), 9 block-kills.
Although she led the team in hitting, Diekhoff was focused on only one thing.
"I just wanted to win," she said.
The four-year letter winner credited the youth of the team, particularly freshman Megan Niese in her first varsity action.
"That was great to step up as a freshman," said Diekhoff. "I'm really proud of her."
She also credited up-and-coming sophomores Ashley Johannigman and Julia Miller.
With South returning seven potential varsity players, Diekhoff sees next year's team being just as successful - if not more - than last year's. A new class will take over as the team leaders, with a similar goal in mind to pursue a championship as a team.
"I hope next year they can carry on that tradition," she said. "We had good leadership this year. I hope they can have even better leadership. Next year they can get further and further along the road."