Hustle vital for young Ladycat team
Young and quick - that is how someone might describe Cassville's varsity volleyball squad this year. The team retains one lone senior surrounded by a plethora of sophomores off of last year's 9-19-2 squad.
On the optimistic side of the pendulum, Cassville's youth might add to their energy.
"We have some very quick girls who hate to see the ball hit the floor," said Coach Mandy Henry. "The squad's hustle and maturation will be keys for a successful season."
Cassville's biggest returning starter will be libero, Destiny Massey. Massey, a defensive specialist, will serve as a role model and guide for the rest of the young squad as the team's only senior.
Also returning from Cassville's top six are sophomores Olivia Cline and Marti Richmiller. Both girls had enough talent to start the varsity team as freshmen, and both girls will play as setters for this year's squad.
Beyond those three, Cassville brings in a variety of new talent. Airica Baker, a sophomore, looks to make an impact as a middle hitter, and Stephanie Sizemore, another sophomore, will show her versatility this season either at the outside or middle hitter positions. Both Emily Orrell and Chelsea Addison, two more sophomores, will also contribute as outside hitters.
In addition to these players, Coach Henry keyed on two other players who stood out in the off-season. Both Naomi Beck and Belinda Long made large strides and hope to make an impact this fall. The two girls are sophomores.
Other players on the team include: junior Kyra Asbury; sophomores Mandi Sizemore, Sam Alcala, Shelbi Shipman, Natalie Cline and Liz Haney; and freshmen Valerie Flynn, Amanda Allison, Amber Balch, Molly Cotter, Sara Miller, Rylie Wilkes, Risa Darveaux, Emily Pry, Natasha Lugeanbeal, Katherine Hoff and Blake Baugher.
Cassville will play this year in the always tough Big 8 Conference.
"This is going to be a challenging season for us," said Henry. "We are extremely young, whereas the other teams in our conference are returning varsity experienced players."
East Newton will most likely be the team to beat this season. The Lady Patriots return a bevy of starters off of last year's very good team.
The Cassville Volleycats begin their season Tuesday, Aug. 28 when they host last year's district champion, McDonald County, starting at 6 p.m. in the high school gymnasium.