Sept. 21 Volleyball Power Rankings

Each week, OzarksSportsZone.com will release local volleyball power rankings. Like our other power rankings, these rankings will be based on dominance by Class, not head-to-head.

Recent success and strength of schedule are also factored into the rankings.

Overall record, Class and previous ranking are listed in parenthesis.

AUG. 31 VB POWER RANKINGS
SEPT. 7 VB POWER RANKINGS
SEPT. 14 VB POWER RANKINGS

1. Strafford (16-1-1, C2, PR: 1) – Strafford’s closing in on a month’s worth of dominant volleyball. The Indians rolled to the Strafford Volleyfest title last weekend, winning nine of their 10 sets by at least seven points. Only finals opponent Springfield Catholic reached the 20-point barrier against the Indians (25-15, 25-20). Strafford’s won 11 straight since dropping its lone match of the season, to Class 4 Lebanon in the Branson Tournament in late August. That was also the last time the Indians dropped a set at all. Hitters Rilie Vote (157 kills, 61.1 kill percentage, 50.6 hitting percentage) and Chloe Rear (79 kills in 16 sets, 57.2 kill percentage) along with setter Gracie Morton (295 assists, 8.4 assists per set) continue to lead a dominating attack. Sophomore Allisan Nichols has developed into Strafford’s top player in the back, but she only has 95 digs in 35 sets because Strafford’s been that dominant on offense. Strafford picked up a Mid-Lakes Conference win at Ash Grove last night (25-14, 25-17) behind 10 kills from Vote, 13 assists from Gracie Morton and 3 blocks by Jessica Allen.

Upcoming games: Sept. 22 @ Stockton, Sept. 27 vs. Marionville, Sept. 29 @ Fair Grove

2. Rogersville (15-4, C2, PR: 4) – Rogersville outlasted Willard on Monday night (25-22, 25-20) then handled Buffalo (25-13, 25-17) last night. Rogersville’s defense stepped up against Willard as McKenna Miller, Birdie Hendrickson, Ashley Pitts and Ashley Pierson all had between 9-11 digs. Three of Rogersville’s four losses have come in three-set outcomes (two of which were to Arkansas schools), so the Wildcats aren’t far off from being a one-loss Class 3 team. The four teams that have beaten Rogersville – Kickapoo, Ozark, Fayetteville (Ark.) and Ft. Smith (Ark.) Southside – have a combined record of 59-18.

Upcoming games: Sept. 22 @ Springfield Catholic, Sept. 26 @ West Plains, Sept. 29 vs. Bolivar

3. Eminence (9-3, C1, PR 3) – Not much action for the Red Wings since over the past 10 days, with 2-0 wins against Willow Springs (Sept. 12) and Houston (Sept. 19) filling the schedule. Eminence will test its might against some local big-school powers at the Carl Junction Volleyball Classic this weekend, kicking off a busy six-day stretch.

Upcoming games: Sept. 24 Carl Junction Classic (Tournament), Sept. 26 @ Mountain Grove, Sept. 27 @ Lesterville, Sept. 29 vs. Summersville

4. Ozark (13-6, C4, PR: 2) – The Tigers took a couple of losses to Class 4 powers last weekend, but they’re still the best Class 4 team the Ozarks has to offer. One of the losses was to a very familiar team: St Teresa’s Academy, who was state runner-up in 2015. Ozark and STA played a one-set “playoff match” last year in Cape Girardeau, with the Stars outlasting Ozark 25-21 to advance to the Class 4 title match against Lafayette the next day. This past Saturday, Ozark played STA (13-1-1 overall) to a 2-1 loss (21-25, 25-21, 22-25). Ozark’s other loss was to another strong Class 4 team, Park Hill South, who entered today with a 16-1 overall record. Like Rogersville, Ozark’s losses have come to the best of the best. St. Teresa’s Academy, Park Hill South, Conway (Ark.), Fayetteville (Ark.), Springdale Har-Ber (Ark.) and Greenwood (Ark.) – the six teams to beat Ozark so far this season – currently have a combined record of 93-18-1. Ozark began a stretch of COC-Large play last night, beating Carl Junction 25-20, 25-21 at home.

Upcoming games: Sept. 22 @ Branson, Sept. 27 @ Republic, Sept. 29 vs. Willard

5. Mountain View-Birch Tree/Liberty (11-2, C2, PR: 5) – The Eagles have crushed two SCA opponents (Salem, Thayer) and also pulled out a close two-set win at Winona (25-19, 25-23) in the past seven days. Brook Conway and Marissa Berry, the setters in Libery’s new 6-2 system, combined for 30 assists in the win against Winona. Liberty figures to face its toughest test of the season thus far at the CJ Volleyball Classic this weekend, followed by a Sept. 27 home tilt with Dexter, a Class 3 team that’s currently 12-4-2 overall and won 26 matches last season.

Upcoming games: Sept. 22 @ Mountain Grove, Sept. 24 Carl Junction Classic (Tournament), Sept. 27 vs. Dexter

6. Kickapoo (16-4, C4, PR: 6) – The Chiefs continue to collect wins over quality Class 3 and 4 teams. They prevailed 2-0 (25-23, 25-22) over Nixa last night in a matchup that was likely a district semifinals preview for next month. Kickapoo now has two wins over Nixa this season, after struggling against the Eagles in recent years and losing to them three times in 2015. Sophomore Azyah Green had a monster game for Kickapoo against Nixa on Tuesday, going for 10 kills (50.0 kill percentage) and five blocks (two solo). She is a future star. The 6-footer is a tenacious defensive player and can limit any hitter in the area. Her teammates apparently nickname her, “The Great Wall of Azyah” and it’s easy to see why. Kamryn Artale (15 digs), Leah Vokolek (13 digs) and Catie Rankin (11 digs) also stepped up defensively for Kickapoo. Kickapoo whipped a good Lebanon team in impressive fashion at home last week. Kickapoo continues to roll since losing to Ozark in late August. The Chiefs are 11-1 in September. The Chiefs will see some of the state’s best this weekend at the Blue Springs Invitational, such as 13-1-1 Class 4 Francis Howell.

Upcoming games: Sept. 22 @ Parkview, Sept. 24 Blue Springs Invitational, Sept. 27 vs. Jefferson City, Sept. 28 vs. Hillcrest

7. Winona (12-7, C1, PR: 7) – The Wildcats gave a strong challenge to visiting Liberty on Monday night, but ultimately fell 25-19, 25-23. While Winona was 14-4-2 overall at this point last season, the Wildcats have faced a much tougher schedule thus far in 2016 by replacing the Buffalo Tournament for the Dig for Life Challenge in SEMO. We’ll see if that pays off next month for districts and sectionals. Winona may have the most regular season losses it’s had since 2011 going into the postseason, but they’ll have experience on their side.

Upcoming games: Sept. 22 vs. Dexter, Sept. 23 @ Ellington, Sept. 27 vs. Willow Springs

8. Fair Grove (16-4, C2, PR: 8) – The Eagles may be fighting some consistency issues, as they’ve needed three sets to beat Ash Grove and Skyline in recent outings. The Skyline match was a bit odd considering Fair Grove won its two sets rather easily (25-8, 25-11) but slipped up in the second set (25-23). Alana Findley and Taylor Bell combined for 21 kills in the win against Skyline. The Eagles have gone with the rare senior-freshman setter tandem in their 6-2: senior Tori Fishback has 163 assists and freshman Maranntha Holliman has 171 assists. Fair Grove will try to not look too far ahead with a Sept. 29 game against Strafford looming on the schedule.

Upcoming games: Sept. 22 @ Mt. Vernon, Sept. 27 @ Pleasant Hope, Sept. 29 vs. Strafford

9. Nixa (10-5, C4, PR: 9) – The Eagles continue to beat the teams they should beat and give stronger teams a run for their money, such as last night’s 25-23, 25-22 home loss to Kickapoo. Nixa now has two losses to Kickapoo this season, but considering both matches were close, the Eagles would have to like their chances in a rematch should the teams meet again in the district semifinals next month. Having only one senior and the fact that the Eagles played Helias Catholic to a 25-22, 27-25 loss on the road makes me think Nixa will be a tough out come districts.

Upcoming games: Sept. 22 @ Republic, Sept. 24 @ Blue Springs South Tournament, Sept. 27 vs. Neosho, Sept. 29 vs. Webb City

10. Carthage (16-3, C4, PR: 10) – The Blue and White Tigers won the Pittsburg (Kan.) Invitational over the weekend, beating Aurora (twice), a previously undefeated Nevada team and a trio of Kansas schools. Carthage followed that up with a 2-1 home win over Branson last night, after dropping the first set. Carthage has set itself up to reach the 20-win plateau for the fourth straight season, although two tough conference road games loom next week.

Upcoming games: Sept. 22 vs. McDonald County, Sept. 27 @ Willard, Sept. 29 @ Carl Junction

11. Wheaton (12-2-1, C1, PR: 13) – Wheaton continues to enjoy its best season in quite some time. This is a program that reached the double-digit win mark only one other time this decade: in 2013 when it finished 11-11-4 overall. The Bulldogs are now chasing an Ozark 7 title and they took a step toward that with a 2-0 win at Verona on Monday night.

Upcoming games: Sept. 22 vs. Southwest (Washburn), Sept. 24 Southwest Volleyfest, Sept. 29 @ Exeter

12. Miller (14-3-1, C1, PR: 14) – Wheaton or Miller, Miller or Wheaton? Take your pick, because these two teams appear to be neck-and-neck based on some common opponents. Unfortunately, we won’t know the better of the two until the Class 1 District 8 tournament. Miller’s only had one game since last Wednesday, a 25-12, 25-20 win over Billings on Sept. 19 that saw Dalyn Hadlock go for 14 assists, Lynna Hadlock tally 13 digs and Tori Collins and Bethany Gulick combine for 11 kills. The Cardinals will host a big game on Thursday when they face Sarcoxie, which will go a long way in deciding the SRVC regular season champion.

Upcoming games: Sept. 22 vs. Sarcoxie, Sept. 27 @ Liberal, Sept. 29 vs. Golden City

13. Willard (16-3-2, C4, PR: 10) – Willard’s still seeking that marquee win over a Class 3 or Class 4, but they’ve handled business against everyone else and will be the No. 1 seed in a district that doesn’t include Ozark, Nixa or Kickapoo. Freshman Emily Terry (89 kills) and junior Kara Finkbiner (86 kills) have paced the Willard attack; Terry also contributes defensively with 50 blocks (24 solo). Brooke Willard (193 assists) and Lindsay Britton (124) assists have taken over setter duties in Willard’s new-look 6-2 scheme. Willard bounced from Monday’s road loss at Rogersville with an easy home win against Neosho last night.

Upcoming games: Sept. 22 @ Webb City, Sept. 29 @ Ozark

14. Carl Junction (7-7, C4, PR: Unranked) – Don’t let the overall record fool you, as the Bulldogs have played a tough schedule but will be a contender for the Class 4, District 12 crown next month. CJ picked up recent wins over Republic (Sept. 15) and Seneca (Sept. 19) before losing 25-20, 25-21 at Ozark last night. On a team keyed by its junior class, sophomore Gracie Southern (77 kills) has formed a solid one-two punch with Lexi Miller (74 kills, 3.5 per set) for the CJ attack, which is orchestrated by setter Sylvia Lawson (208 assists, 6.7 aps).

Upcoming games: Sept. 22 vs. Neosho, Sept. 24 CJ Classic (Tournament), Sept. 27 vs. Branson Sept. 29 @ Carthage

15. Clever (11-4-2, C2, PR: 15) – Perhaps hindered by some inconsistency in early September, Clever hasn’t messed around in its last three matches, dispatching Galena, Blue Eye and El Dorado Springs in comfortable fashion. Clever’s best asset may be its balanced attack. Emily Mendenhall, Taylor Menzies, Harper Little, Abi Menzies and Madison Newman all have between 50-63 kills through 35 sets. Little, showing her basketball athleticism, has added a team-high 175 digs, while setters Lindsay Peebles and Jessica Swartz have combined for 240 assists.

Upcoming games: Sept. 22 @ Sparta, Sept. 27 @ Ash Grove, Sept. 29 vs. Hollister

Knocking on the door: Aurora (11-9, C3), Hillcrest (12-2-1, C4), Willow Springs (13-4-2, C2), Sarcoxie (17-4-3, C2)