Lady Trojans march to opener

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Southwest outside hitter, Savana Leonhardt, a junior works on her serve during the Lady Trojans jamboree last Tuesday. Southwest is ready for another season on the volleyball court. Jared Lankford/

Southwest volleyball aims for conference title, sets sights higher

For 12 seasons, Steve Voyak has guided the Lady Trojans volleyball team through thick and thin.

Last year, Southwest amassed a 26-5-2 record and won the Ozark 7 Conference before getting upset in the district semifinal.

This year, the goal is to repeat last season's success and side-step the district hiccup.

The Lady Trojans will be without the services of Montana Hendrix, Britney Mitchell and Lauren Mitchell who graduated.

Voyak knows that his team will have still have a target on its back.

"We have won 46 games and two conference championships the last two year," Voyak said. "We aren't going to sneak up on anybody. We had better bring our 'A' game every night or we won't win."

This year's team still has a potent mix of potential. For Southwest, it begins with its four seniors: Shannon Mitchell, Jessica Henderson, Brittney Hackett and Kayna McNabb.

"Every team needs leadership, but our senior dynamic is different," Voyak said. "We have two experienced seniors and two inexperienced, but we need all four to lead and be consistent and help the team stay balanced and positive throughout the season."

Mitchell, at 6-0, is one of the top middles in the area according to her coach and has a chance to set the school record in blocks and kills.

Jessica Henderson was the junior varsity captain a year ago.

"She is a smart defensive specialist," Voyak said. "She reads the play well and has improved her passing and serving."

Brittney Hackett is a quick, defensive specialist, who has improved her passing according to Voyak.

Kayna McNabb is a 5-7, outside hitter. She has started for two years and led the team in digs as a junior. Voyak want her to improve and be a more vocal leader this season.

Southwest will also rely on a large junior class that includes: Jaime Shrum, Savana Leonhardt, Mikaela Black and Karla Catron. Sophomores include: Brianna Leonard and Rebekah McKeever; and the lone freshman is Ceara McCoy.

"Our biggest strength will be our speed, height (five players 5-7 or taller) and varsity experience, with six of the top eight players," Voyak said. "We still need to work on receiving serve, serving consistency and aggressiveness."

Voyak will be assisted Tamara McNabb.

The Lady Trojans will be in action on Thursday at Pea Ridge, Ark. Matches begin at 5 p.m.

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