Team was definitely the theme for the 2008 Cassville Ladycat volleyball team as the squad persevered and produced a turnaround season that saw the squad Ladycats advance to the semifinal round of district play.
"I feel the girls came a long way this season," said Coach Mandy Henry. "They each play special roles on our team, and there isn't one that is greater than another. We looked much better as a team and as individual players by the end of the season."
Cassville, seeded fourth in the tournament, opened district play by facing off against Big 8 rival Aurora, the tournament's third-seed. The Ladycats fought hard and won the match in three games (25-19, 20-25, 25-21).
In that game, Marti Richmiller had seven kills, Olivia Cline was credited with 11 assists and Chelsea Addison and Belinda Long had five aces each. Emily Orrell contributed 11 digs and Emily Pry had two blocks in the win.
After defeating Aurora, Cassville played top-seeded Reeds Spring and fell 9-25, 14-25. Team leaders in that game were: Richmiller, four kills; Cline, six assists, one block and two aces; and Orrell, nine digs.
After finishing last in the Big 8 Conference in 2007, the Ladycats ended up the 2008 tied for third place in the Big 8.
"I predicted early in the season that we would be somewhere in the middle of the Big 8, but I shared with the girls a couple of weeks ago that I really wasn't sure," said Coach Henry. "Their hard work and determination paid off and tying for third (in the conference), I felt, was a huge step for us."
Cassville ended the regular season with big wins over Aurora (25-18, 25-23) and Seneca (25-12, 25-11).
Statistical leaders in those two games were: Richmiller, five kills and four assists; Cline, 12 assists, 29 digs and two aces; Pry, one block; Long, seven aces; and Naomi Beck, six kills.
Looking back on the season, Coach Henry said most of the matches that Cassville won could be credited to tough serving and great defense.
"Our goal is to continue that and add more offense to our repertoire," said Coach Henry.
The Ladycats ended the season with a 11-17-3 record, and the squad will be losing only one senior to graduation.
"These girls are raising the bar for Cassville volleyball: what it means to be a team member and what they will accomplish together," said Coach Henry. "After a couple of down seasons, we are now setting goals and accomplishing them on all three teams.
"Coach (Desiree) Corn and I are excited and proud to be a part of this program," added Coach Henry.
The Ladycat squad was also honored by two of its players being named to the All-Big 8 Conference team and one tapped for All-Region recognition.
Sophomore Marti Richmiller was a first team All-Big 8 selection and a second team All-Region choice. Junior Olivia Cline was named to the All-Big 8 second team.