Southwest High School begins the 2006 volleyball season on Monday, Aug. 28, according to Coach Steve Voyak.
The Lady Trojans return five starters from last year's team that finished 5-1 in the Ozark 7 Conference and 19-13 overall.
Seniors Kayla Ferguson, Meagan Colf and Jennifer Finuf will lead Southwest this fall.
Ferguson, a 5-foot-7 setter, had 450 assists as a junior and was named to all-area, all-district and all-conference teams. Colf, a 5-foot-11 middle blocker, led the team in attacks and was named to All-District and All-Conference teams. Finuf, a 5-foot-8 middle blocker, led the team in blocks and was second in attacks.
"It's always nice to rely on seniors," Voyak said. "Kayla is a quiet leader, but her knowledge of the game is invaluable. She has also worked to improve her defense the last two years.
"Meagan and Jennifer have started for four years, and the program has improved with each season," added Voyak. "Meagan is our top hitter, and her work in club ball has helped take her game to the next level. Jennifer is very athletic and fun to coach because she works so hard."
Summer Stephens, a 5-foot-9 junior outside hitter who has started for two years, is ready for a breakout season.
"Summer is another hard worker who has spent lots of time in the off-season trying to improve her passing and hitting," Voyak said. "If teams focus too much on Meagan and Jen, Summer will hurt them."
Jessica Mitchell, a 6-foot junior right side hitter, will also be part of the starting line-up.
"Jessica started as a setter as a sophomore at Cassville," Voyak said. "She is working hard on passing and hitting. She is agile, graceful and unbelievably quick for somebody six feet tall."
Sam Elkins, a 5-foot-2 junior outside hitter, will round out the starting line-up.
"Sam serves and passes well," Voyak said. "She started many games last season before suffering an injury that slowed her late in the year."
Voyak said freshmen Stacie Pendergraft (5-foot-8) and Chasidi Utter (5-foot-9) would also see varsity action, especially in the front row.
"It's difficult to ask any freshman to go from middle school to varsity high school competition this quick," Voyak said. "I am confident in both of them. Stacie has more confidence offensively right now and Chasidi has been better defensively, but both should be able to excel on both sides of the ball."
Southwest plays 16 regular season matches, including Fayetteville (Ark.), Pierce City, Hurley, Crane and six Ozark 7 Conference games. The Lady Trojans also play in the Branson and McDonald County High tourneys and host their own event in mid-September.
"Our schedule is very tough," Voyak said. "Wheaton has been dominant in the conference for two years, and I am certain Coach Prigg will have them ready again. Pierce City has to be one of the top teams in the area and will be one of the favorites in the district tournament."
Voyak said Southwest moved to a new district with Pierce City, Purdy, McAuley, Sarcoxie, Diamond and College Heights Christian. The host school for the district will be determined in the next few weeks.
A total of 22 girls are out for volleyball at Southwest. Other players include: Tasha Barnett, Susan Blakey, Cheyenna Catron, Rachael Colf, Traisha Conner, Lacey Corn, Marisa Fletcher, Amanda Lay, Deona Page, Kayla Petty, Tina Schreiner, Heather Skidmore, Briana Stephens, Kayla Tate and Brittany Wright.