By CONOR NICHOLL
It’s simply a different sound when Beloit 6-foot-1 outside hitter Addison Budke attacks the volleyball. The noise reverberates like a cannon shot.
“The power that she hits with is just unreal,” Beloit tenth-year coach Brandy Paul told SIK.
Paul said sometimes the opponent gets “lucky” and can dig Budke because of the sophomore’s immense power. The ball ricochets off the defender and hits the ceiling, generally at least 20 feet off the floor. The ball is still in play, and the defense can get the ball back over the net.
“It just flies,” Paul said.
Other than that, teams have shown limited resistance against Budke, who is quickly reaching prestigious milestones that generally take four years to reach. This week, Budke should clear 1,000 career kills. While early, she is on pace to join historically elite well-known Kansans for career kills. Addison comes from a long line of successful Budkes at Beloit. Paul has watched her for many years.
“She’s just a natural,” Paul said. “A lot of it is you just don’t teach. They’ve just got it.”
Two years ago, Beloit went 22-11 and graduated its top-two hitters. Last fall, Budke delivered a remarkable 679 kills, which easily led Kansas and set a school record. Beloit finished 34-10 and was final four in 3A.
“Unreal, I would have never guessed that,” Paul said of Budke’s numbers.
She finished with 6.7 kills per set, 44.7 kill percentage and a .312 hitting percentage. Mylie Brown recorded 503 kills, an elite mark.
“We relied on them just 95 percent of the time last year,” she said.
This fall, Budke and Brown both return for a 20-3 squad that ranks third in 3A by the Kansas Volleyball Association. After the season-opening Hays tournament, Paul mentioned Beloit’s depth.
“If we want to make it to a championship, we can’t use two people, and they know that,” Paul said.
Paul, though, paused and smiled.
“(Addison) may still get to 500,” she said.
As the season crosses its halfway point, Budke should again surpass 500 kills. She still paces Kansas with 288 kills and has upped her averages from last fall. Budke has kills on 49.7 percent of swings and carries a .375 hitting percentage. Beloit went 5-0 and won the Republic County tournament last weekend.
She could clear 1,000 kills as early as Tuesday in a matchup with Southeast of Saline. Budke has 967 career kills in 153 career sets. Budke and Brown were first and second team all-state, respectively, in ‘21.
The season-opening Hays tournament included 6A Olathe West, 5A Maize South, and Beloit. These squads are a combined 48-8 as of Tuesday afternoon. Budke and OW senior Ava Testrake, a Creighton commit and No. 2 Kansas recruit for Class of 2023, were the co-Most Outstanding Players for the tournament.
“She is an incredible athlete, incredible,” Hays High coach Shannon Funk said. “I am excited for her future, like she is only a sophomore, really cool, it’s fun to watch her.”
Budke is on pace to clear 2,000 career kills. Per Jordan Poland at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and SIK research, eight players are known to hit 1,700 career kills.
“We just try to work in on those talents, and try to teach her…go line, hit a couple hard, and then if you need to lay it soft, because they are all backing up, and lay it soft,” Paul said. “Just making her a smarter player.”
Hutchinson Central Christian’s Jamie Patrick holds the consensus record of 2,635 from 2008-11. Patrick enjoyed a highly decorated basketball career at Hutchinson Community College and Division I Colorado State.
Silver Lake’s Alyssa Schultejans collected 1,985 from 2011-14. She was a four-year player at Kansas State. Schultejans recorded 732 kills in her senior year for SL. She finished with 738 kills at K-State.
St. James Academy’s Audriana Fitzmorris recorded 1,839 from ’12-15. She went onto an All-American career and won three national titles at Stanford.
Sublette’s Emily Lucas delivered 1,742 kills from ’05-08. Lucas enjoyed a standout volleyball career at Division I University of Missouri-Kansas City, including first team all-league, and was a Division I assistant coach.
Hillcrest’s Jennifer Joy had 1,714 kills from ’97-20.
Northern Colorado’s Kailey Jo Ince has enjoyed a big career for UNC following 1,713 kills at Hesston from ’14-17. Ince, like Budke, is 6-1. She is second all-time at UNC for kills.
Marysville’s Kendra Wecker recorded 1,711 from 1997-2000. Wecker is one of Kansas’ most famous athletes and among many other achievements was Big 12 Player of the Year in women’s basketball in 2005.
Thomas More Prep-Marian’s Emilee Lane finished with a school record 1,706 kills last fall and is currently seeing time as a true freshman for Nebraska-Kearney, ranked No. 7 in Division II.
Budke’s numbers should surpass several multiple first team all-state standouts from similarly sized schools. Wabaunsee 6-foot-1 Lauren Schutter is currently a freshman at Michigan State after 1,156 kills for the Chargers.
Chetopa’s Samantha Blundell recorded 1,183 kills for the Green Hornets. Smith Center’s Tallon Rentschler was 2A Player of the Year last season and set the Lady Red all-time kill record at 1,495.
Paul, the only coach to lead Beloit to a state tournament, has coached multiple high-level athletes, including Sydney Johnson, a thrower at University of Missouri. Paul led Beloit to state runner-up in ’19. Overall, Beloit has state appearances in ’15, ’17, ’18, ’19 and ’21. Budke is currently ranked in the mid-30s by Prep Dig for the Class of 2025.
Paul said she believes Budke “can get” to the Power 5 collegiate level with improvement. Budke wants to play college volleyball. She plays club for well-known Volleytech in Hutchinson and has an approach jump of 9 feet, 5 inches. Well-respected Robert Kelly has Budke as a top Class of 2025 basketball player, too. Budke was honorable mention all-league basketball as a freshman.
“Now we are just trying to develop her more as a vocal player and a leader,” Paul said. “Because people would think she would be like the big player on campus, and she is not. She is more quiet, and just ‘give the ball, I will hit it, OK, let’s go on.’ I am trying to get her to be that more vocal leader and get fired up.”
Impressively, Beloit has continued the offensive success with a brand-new setter. Beloit graduated Makenzie Travis, who is now setting as a freshman at Pratt Community College. Jaidyn Follis has 531 assists, which has led Kansas for part of the season. Her twin, Kailyn, is the libero and paces the Trojans in digs and receptions. Brown severely hurt his ankle this summer and was limited to back row early. She is second with 123 kills.
Freshman Dakota Gray, sophomores Cassandra Thompson and Brecken Boudreaux and senior Haley Channell have been key players.
“It’s going to be a fun group,” Paul said.