Lady Trojans ready to volley

Wednesday, August 28, 2019
The Southwest returning volleyball players, from left, are: Bonnie Robbins, Brylee Wilson, Khloe Holder, Sarah Terry, Olivia Ayer, Karma Romine and Emily Wilson. Jared Lankford/

Southwest to rely on youth on the court

There are few volleyball programs as proud and as dedicated to the craft as Southwest.

The Lady Trojans are led by Steve Voyak and his 17 years of experience.

Last year, Southwest entered the SouthWest Central League Conference and had a bag of mixed results, finishing 10-19-1.

“It was different playing in a new conference, and we finished 3-4,” Voyak said. “I think it will take time to establish rivalries like we had in the Ozark 7, but we have played teams like Blue Eye and Galena for years, so we already have a little history with them.”

The Lady Trojans feel like the serve will be their strength this season.

“Our strength has to be our youth, energy and work ethic,”Voyak said. “We also could have a good serving team from 1-6 if the girls continue to improve. Our weaknesses are more obvious: lack of size [with no players over 5-6], speed, inexperience, hitters that can consistently kill the ball, serve reception [all players in serve reception this season have never done it at the varsity level] and passing consistency.”

As far as returners go, Voyak was honest.

“We don’t return a lot from last season,” he said.

Khloe Holder and Olivia Ayer only played in 1 game last season as a freshman, and Bonnie Robbins is coming off injuries, he said.

“We have three returning letter-winners, Holder, Robbins and Karma Romine — all juniors,” Voyak said.

Holder was cleared and played all summer, but still has a way to go, Voyak said.

“Olivia was cleared July 1 and started practice Monday,” he said. “Bonnie is a question mark. She will miss some of the season, but we’re not sure just how much. She does love volleyball, so I know she is working as hard as she can because she wants to play. She came to a lot of our summer workouts, even though she could not participate. She’s really dedicated.

“Khloe and Bonnie are outside hitters and Olivia plays in the middle. Karma can play outside or middle, but we are also looking at her as a possible libero because of quickness and anticipation.”

Three other players the team will be looking for leadership from will be Brylee Wilson, Olivia Ayer and Sarah Terry.

“Brylee did a nice job last season, when all the injuries hit, and stepped in and played some front row,” Voyak said. “We liked her on the right side, so now we are looking at her as full-time setter. She’s athletic and smart. Olivia was going to start as one of our middles as a freshman before her injury. She’s also athletic, has some size [at 5-foot-6] and works hard. Sarah [at 5-foot-6] dressed varsity as a junior, but only saw limited time. She did a nice job in the summer.”

As for the season outlook, the team is under no illusions.

“We understand other teams are not going to be intimidated when we walk into the gym,” Voyak said. “We will have to out work, out smart and out play most of our opponents. The good news is we averaged 20 players at summer workouts, and that doesn’t count 3 other players injured and another who was taking college classes and couldn’t participate. We have girls who care about volleyball and want to spend time in the gym to get better.

“I also think the combination of the girls coming back from injury and the new players trying to prove themselves will make the team hungrier than usual to compete on a higher level. The goal is to be competitive in the SWCL and the three tournaments we play in and to peak at the end of the season and make a run at district time.”

Southwest opens the season on Aug. 30 at Gentry (Ark.). The home opener is set for Sept. 5 with Marionville.

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