Ladycats grow as team and as a program
A core of four returning starters and one returning letterman provide the foundation for the 2008 Cassville Ladycat volleyball squad. Hard work in the off-season and a growing knowledge of the game should translate to an improved outcome this season, according to Head Coach Mandy Henry.
A quartet of juniors return to the court as starters this fall. These players include: Marti Richmiller, setter/right side; Olivia Cline, setter/right side; Chelsea Addison, left side; and Stephanie Sizemore, left side/middle hitter.
They are joined by defensive specialist Emily Orrell, another junior, who saw a lot of playing time last year off the bench.
Coach Henry will also be relying on an infusion of talent from five players she lists as top prospects. They include: junior Shelbi Shipman, right side; junior Belinda Long, right side/defensive specialist; junior Naomi Beck, middle hitter; sophomore Risa Darveaux, left side; and sophomore Emily Pry, middle hitter.
"The girls have done a nice job (in the off-season and pre-season)," said Coach Henry, who will be assisted this year by Desiree Corn. "We entered the Aurora League for the first time in five years and went to team camp at Missouri Southern."
Looking ahead to the upcoming conference schedule, Coach Henry believes this year's team ranks somewhere in the middle of the Big 8.
"We are going to take it one match at a time," said Coach Henry. "A few of the teams we play lost key players and others are going to shine this season. We just need to stay in the mix.
"One of our strengths is serving," added Coach Henry. "Another is our gaining knowledge of the game. We are working on growing offensively."
This year, Cassville's district has changed and now includes Aurora, Mt. Vernon, Reeds Spring, Republic and Springfield-Catholic.
Another positive for Cassville's volleyball program is the growing number of athletes joining the team. There are an impressive 27 Ladycats listed on the 2008 varsity, junior varsity and C team rosters.
"We are growing as a team and as a program," said Coach Henry.
The Ladycats' first match of the season will be played at McDonald County on Tuesday, Sept. 2. The first home game is slated for Thursday, Sept. 11 against the Carthage Lady Tigers.