By ALAN HOSKINS
The good news is that Kansas City Kansas Community College returns five starters from a team that came within one win of a berth in the NJCAA national volleyball tournament last year.
The bad news is the Lady Blue Devils play in arguably the toughest Division II conference in the nation. The defending national champion, Cowley County, is ranked No. 1 in this fall’s Preseason Top 20 and arch-rival Johnson County No. 8.
“I think we’re in a pretty good place because we’re going in under the radar,” says head coach Mary Bruno. So do the pollsters who have pegged KCKCC as one of five “other teams to watch” in the Preseason Top 20 and third in the district behind Cowley and JCCC.
Bruno is coming off an outstanding rookie season. Named KCKCC’s Coach of the Year, her Blue Devils were 24-14 and third in the conference before losing to JCCC in the regional finals.
Not one to back away from tough competition, the Blue Devils are scheduled for tournaments in West Burlington and Council Bluffs in Iowa, New Port Richey, Fla., and Highland where they’ll be facing such national powers as parkland, Pasco-Hernando and Longview.