Pink it out!

Halfway through the season, the Exeter volleyball team has endured a grueling road schedule — only two of the first 10 games at home — but the Lady Tigers have a special match coming to their court next week.

On Tuesday, Exeter will host Southwest in the annual “Pink Out” contest, which has a deeper meaning for the team this season.

Stephanie Crumpler, Exeter volleyball coach, said she hopes fans pack the stands and deliver the charity, as the team is making a meaningful donation to the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks this year.

“The team will be fundraising in the weeks leading up to the game and the night of the game,” she said. “This night is special because it’s a time to raise money for an important cause, but this topic hits close to home. Malyea Henderson’s mother passed away a few years back of breast cancer. Malyea was playing middle school volleyball for me at the time.

“I spoke with Malyea when we chose to do a ‘Pink Out,’ and we decided together this was a perfect year since she was a senior; and, we could also honor her mom and raise money for a good cause. All proceeds will be donated to the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks in the name of Nikki Henderson, Malyea’s mother.”

Henderson is one of two seniors on the Lady Tigers’ squad this season. Playing so many games on the road, Exeter is 1-13-3, with a victory over Bronough, 3-0. The first home game after the Aug. 31 opener was on Sept. 15, a 3-2 (21-25, 25-21, 25-21, 21-25, 12-15) loss to Ozark 7 foe Golden City.

“It’s been tough on the girls to have away games night after night after night,” Crumpler said. “We are now getting into a stretch where we have a few home games, so I expect some competitive volleyball games and the girls to be more rested and relaxed.”

Exeter lost three starters from last season, including Emma Sorensen, setter now playing for Cottey College in Nevada. For the Lady Tigers, it’s the juniors this year making their marks on the floor, led by Henderson and fellow senior Natalie Crumpler.

“I have coached Malyea and Natalie since seventh grade,” Crumpler said. “I expect communication and leadership out of these two. They have the most experience on the court than anyone else so they should lead by example.

“I have a great group of juniors who have played for me since middle school. Juniors Dawnee Sorensen and Abbey Lemons are both consistent servers. Karlee Willis is also a strong middle who plays well in the back row. Zeanndrea Brown will play any position I put her in, but right now, she is working as setter, and she will run the entire floor. She has hustle and determination.”

Crumpler said fellow juniors Hallie Woods and Shea Hilburn have been focusing on their hitting.

“In my opinion those two are two completely different players from last year, and I’ve loved watching them grow and improve,” she said.

Several newcomers have also joined the Exeter team this season.

“The freshman class brings in several new players,” Crumpler said. “Gizelle Lee will see some varsity time as a libero. She is eager to learn and puts in the time to practice her position. Freshmen Kahlan Fuller, Jaylee Hawkins, Whitney Beck and Beatriz Alcaraz, and sophomore Honesty Hall all have great potential. They are young but have really started the season out great on JV and work well together.”

As conference and district contests approach, Crumpler said consistency will be the driver of success for Exeter.

“I want us to perform competitively with other teams consistently,” she said. “We have a talented group of girls who have the knowledge of the game. We always seem to fall short game to game.

“In some aspects, we are a young team, but these girls are eager to win and have put in the time during practice, making adjustments and working hard to make this team better.”