The Southwest Lady Trojans open the volleyball season next week with three games in four days, including two Ozark 7 Conference matches.
After facing Gentry (Ark.) on the road Monday, Southwest plays host to Thomas Jefferson on Tuesday and Exeter on Thursday. The Gentry non-conference game will be best-of-five sets at the varsity level.
Coach Steve Voyak said his team was anxious to get started after a busy summer and three weeks of practice. Voyak said his squad was young but experienced. He listed serve percentage and height as strength areas and speed and consistency in serve receive as areas of concern.
The core of the team is made up of five juniors, a sophomore and a freshman. The Lady Trojans are led by junior middle Taylor Mettlach and sophomore setter Montana Hendrix.
Mettlach was named All-Conference, All-District and All-Region last season and led the team in serve percentage at 96.4 percent. She was also second in attacks and blocks. Hendrix led the team in service points, aces and blocks and was named to the All-Conference team. Mettlach and Hendrix will serve as co-captains of the 2011 squad.
"We expect a lot from those two," Voyak said. "They both changed positions for the better of the team and added leadership responsibilities."
Other starters include junior outside hitters Chelsie Leroy and Megan Light, junior setter Jerri Lynn Henry, junior libero Atisha Boudreau and freshman middle Shannon Mitchell. All of the juniors have varsity experience.
"We have installed a more complicated offense, but the girls have learned and adapted nicely," Voyak said. "We also switched from a four-person serve receive to a three and added a full-time libero."
Senior Samantha Barberio, junior Sharrlana Gonzales and sophomores Lauren Mitchell and Sequoia Beck round out the varsity reserves. Randi Woods, Britney Mitchell, Brittany Hackett, Kayna McNabb, Jessica Henderson and Stormie Barnett make up the junior varsity team.
The Lady Trojans have three special events planned, including: Volleyfest, Sept. 17 in Washburn, featuring 12 teams; Pink Out, Oct. 4 vs. McAuley; and Senior Night, Oct. 6 vs. Gentry, Ark.
Voyak said Exeter and Verona were two of the top Ozark 7 Conference teams and Pierce City, Blue Eye, Diamond and Clever would be the better teams in the area.
2011 Southwest Volleyball Schedule: Aug. 29 at Gentry; Aug. 30 vs. Thomas Jefferson at home;; Sept. 1 vs. Exeter at home; Sept. 6 vs. Marionville at home; Sept. 12 at Farmington, Ark.; Sept. 13 at Galena; Sept. 15 at Diamond; Sept. 17, Volleyfest in Washburn; Sept. 19 at Blue Eye; Sept. 20 at Verona; Sept. 24, Diamond Tournament; Sept. 26 at Pierce City; Sept. 27 vs. Hurley at home; Sept. 29 vs. Wheaton at home; Oct. 3 at College Heights; Oct. 4 vs. McAuley Catholic at home; Oct. 6 vs. Gentry, Ark., at home; Oct. 13 at Purdy; Oct. 18 at Exeter; Oct. 20 at Sarcoxie; and Oct. 24-25, districts.