Southwest opens the high school volleyball season next week. The Lady Trojans begin Tuesday, Sept. 2 at Thomas Jefferson High School in an Ozark 7 Conference match in Joplin.
Southwest returns four starters from last year's 13-19 team that shared the conference championship with Verona.
"The girls are anxious to play," said sixth-year Coach Steve Voyak. "They played 30 matches over the summer against quality competition and have been working to improve all facets of the game. We are considerably smaller than we have been recently, so we'll need to jump higher and move faster, especially defensively."
The Lady Trojans are led by tri-captains Tasha Barnett, Marisa Fletcher and Stacie Pendergraft.
"Marisa and Stacie are the top hitters and Tasha is the primary setter, but we'll also use her some in serve-receive because she does that well," Voyak said. "Marisa's game has really taken off. She played club ball and has worked hard to improve her hitting, blocking, serving and defense."
Seniors Briana Stephens and Tina Schreiner will both play front row as outside hitters. Junior Heather Skidmore and senior Susan Blakey will serve as defensive specialists. Juniors Amanda Lay and Brittany Wright are in the mix for playing time on the right side. Sophomore Tiffany Shockley is the secondary setter and will handle the setting in certain situations.
"Tiffany is a perfect example of how important the off-season is," Voyak said. "She played club ball and worked hard during the summer and passed several players to earn a varsity position. She has a ways to go to be an efficient setter, but her progress has been steady."
Southwest begins the year with four straight road matches and then a tournament at Thomas Jefferson.
"It's important we start fast," Voyak said. "We'll see premier players like Whitney Edie, of Exeter, Ashlie Mason, of East Newton. and Katie Van Lou, of Diamond, in that opening stretch. We'll have to fight for every point."
The Lady Trojans are 30-7 at home since they opened the new gym in 2005 and have averaged 17 wins a year over the last three seasons.
Other members of the Southwest volleyball team include: Rachael Colf, Ka Yang, Pazoe Lee, Katy Cain, Britney Mulkey, Corinne Lawyer, Gabi Martinez and Jacey Still.
The 2008 schedule is as follows: Sept. 2 at Thomas Jefferson; Sept. 4 at Exeter; Sept. 9 at Marionville; Sept. 11 at East Newton; Sept. 13, Thomas Jefferson Tourney; Sept. 16 vs. Galena; Sept. 18 vs. Diamond; Sept. 20, Southwest Volleyfest; Sept. 23 vs. Verona; Sept. 27, Diamond Tourney; Sept. 29 vs. Pierce City; Sept. 30 at Hurley; Oct. 2 at Wheaton; Oct. 4, Pierce City JV Tourney; Oct. 6 vs. College Heights; Oct. 7 at McAuley; Oct. 11, McAuley JV Tourney; Oct. 14 vs. Blue Eye; Oct. 16 vs. Purdy; Oct. 21 vs. Exeter; Oct. 23 vs. Sarcoxie (Senior Night).