Lady ‘Cats spike way through summer

Wednesday, July 14, 2021
Avery Crain sets a ball for teammate Emerson Grossman to spike during a Cassville practice last week before the Pitt State camp. Kyle Troutman/

Team building chemistry with practices, camps

Pace of play is paramount in volleyball, and the Cassville squad has honed in this summer on a way to slow the game down a bit — communication.

With the group of upperclassmen coming through the program, Briana Kleine, Cassville volleyball coach, said this summer has been encouraging for her team.

Landry Parnell connects on a ball during practice for Cassville. Kyle Troutman/

“We like to rely on our seniors to foster our chemistry and provide a positive influence,” Kleine said. “We have a great group of leaders this year, so we really rely on them to teach some of our younger kids and help them get better. This summer has been very positive, encouraging and uplifting.

“I feel like we’ve reached the type of culture we have been trying to create over the last five years, and this year what we’ve worked for will come. It was kind of a negative environment when I started, and these current seniors have worked every year to change that.”

Sharayah Seymour, incoming senior, said this year has felt different than in years past.

Sharayah Seymour spikes a ball for a point during a Lady Wildcats’ practice last week. Kyle Troutman/

“It’s more energetic and a fun environment,” she said. “Everyone is having a great time and enjoying being here together — it’s a really positive atmosphere.”

Seymour said that has been a benefit for the team when it comes to fostering chemistry.

“With the seniors we lost last year, we have to get better,” she said. “We are making those connections this year and getting better in the summer for the upcoming season.”

Kleine said the team’s summer regimen started with conditioning in June each day, as well as Tuesday league games and a few summer tournaments.

“We went to Nixa for a summer tournament series, and we got to face some great competition against teams we don’t normally see, like Nixa, Republic, Webb City, Logan-Rogersville, Helias and Joplin,” she said. “We like to get out of our conference in the off-season and increase the speed of play.”

When not on the court, the team has held events aimed at building the bridge between the upperclassmen and the youth brigade.

“We’ve done a couple team bonding days where we just hang out,” Kleine said. “We graduated eight, so we had a lot of turnover. We want the new kids to gain some confidence with the older ones.”

This month, preparations for the season have already ramped up.

“We had a Pitt State satellite camp, where their coaches and players came here to teach us,” Kleine said. “We also went to their camp, where we played teams from all over, including from Kansas and Oklahoma.”

Kleine said it’s no secret Seymour, an All-State selection for Cassville in 2020, is the dominant hitter, but the Lady Wildcats have been enjoying contributions across the floor.

“Other kids are stepping up to take that load off her,” Kleine said. “They are all-in and making a difference, taking steps forward. The younger kids are putting in the work to get better, and

they have come in better than any group before them. There has been a big improvement already in ball control, and we still have more to work on.”

Seymour said she hopes the overall improvement as a team continues.

“As a team, our energy is high, and our confidence is getting a lot better,” she said. “We are more confident playing with one another, so our communication is up, and we play better when we trust one another. I think this season will be successful, and I think our want to win will make a big difference and help us in our goal to be the best we can be.”

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