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Competitive atmosphere: MHS volleyball campers put to the test

Brooke Flemmer, right, tips the ball over the defense of Chelsea Brewster, both incoming seniors this fall, during during the Mitchell High School Volleyball Camp on Monday afternoon at Mitchell High School. (Matt Gade / Republic)

There was plenty of competition and skill work this week for the Mitchell High School volleyball team.

The Kernel coaching staff conducted a two-day camp Monday and Tuesday for seventh-through-12th graders at the MHS gym and it was a prime setting to evaluate campers in a variety of settings.

"It is exciting for us," Mitchell coach Deb Thill said. "We know we have high expectations going into the season. The skill level is very high in this gym and not just the senior class. The skill level is very high in our high school and all of our high school kids, and so for us, that is very exciting to see."

More than 70 players participated in the two-day camp, with an emphasis on skill work and drills during the early portion of camp.

"It's a large number and for us to even get to know everybody and for them to get to know us and expectations," Thill said. "There's a lot of skill work."

The camp also focused on competitive games for the final three hours and Thill said "everything is a competition."

"We want our kids to compete and we want them to compete at a high level and the only way they are going to learn that is in practice," Thill said. "The more that you can compete, the more it's going to carry over to the season and your matches against other teams."

Thill has the luxury of returning a host of upperclassmen and that helps with expectations for the fall. The Kernels will have 11 seniors on the roster this season.

"They understand expectations of how we want things done," Thill said. "It makes our job as coaches a lot easier because they already either know the drill or they know what is expected or they already mastered the skill. It just makes our job easier."

The Kernels have also had open gyms and will hit the road for team camps later this month. They will go to team camps in Sioux Falls, Mankato, Minnesota, and Ames, Iowa to help gear up for the season.

"It will be nice to have our team out on the court and playing together," Thill said. "It will just basically be a preseason and they will get a couple weeks off and Aug. 9 (to start practice), here we are."

One of the Kernels' 11 returning seniors is all-state outside hitter Mackenzie Miller, who suffered a knee injury during basketball season. She had surgery on March 27 and has not yet been cleared to participate, said Thill.

"The goal for her is to have a Mitchell Kernel uniform on as soon as possible and be out there out playing," Thill said.