By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Marionville Volleyball will have a new look with first-year head coach Taylor Aurentz taking over in 2017.
Aurentz, an Oklahoma native, is a Missouri State graduate and looking forward to implementing her own philosophy and standards on the Lady Comets program.
“The biggest thing that can be expected from me is a set of high expectations and the kind of program girls can really begin to buy into starting at a young age,” said Aurentz. “I am here to build a lasting program that players and fans can look forward to every year.”
And, the cupboard isn’t bare for the Lady Comets.
Marionville went 25-7-1 last year and return three starters from that team. However, Aurentz’s first challenge will be replacing departed seniors Kymra Kirby and Tori Brown; both players were All-Mid-Lakes selections in 2016.
Kirby will continue her career collegiately at Jefferson County CC.
“The class of 2017 had an incredible offense with three big hitters graduating, however this year they are being followed by a great class of defense,” said Aurentz. “Two senior defensive specialists will be picking up everything thrown our way and the sophomore and junior class is stepping up offensively to fill Kymbra and Tori’s shoes.”
One of those looking to fill the leadership void is senior setter Tori LaSalle.
LaSalle is Marionville’s returning leader in assists and was an all-conference pick last year.
“Tori LaSalle has hard work and leadership in her blood, and it shows on the court,” said Aurentz. “Working with a young, building team takes the right kind of leader and Tori’s consistency and level head is just that.”
Junior Madylon Davis is the team’s returning leader in kills and will likely shoulder a large amount of the offensive load for the Lady Comets.
“Madylon will be alongside Tori as a team leader as a well-rounded player with consistent hits outside and team-leading serve receive,” said Aurentz.
Morgan Barrickman will also return to start this season.
LaSalle and Davis will be counted on to help lead an inexperienced, but talented group of newcomers. Marionville could see several sophomores, in addition to juniors and seniors, playing major roles this year.
“A trio of newcomers, Kaylee Neveln, Madysen Barber and Katie Stafford, will be the new front row representing the Comets,” said Aurentz. “The young powerhouses will be incredibly important in rebuilding the loss of the 2017 class. Alexus Buckert and Kelsie Grimm will also be important in consistent serve receive for this young team.”
The Mid-Lakes won’t do Marionville any favors.
For the Lady Comets to earn a conference championship they’ll likely have to knock off Strafford and/or Fair Grove, who return two of the best players in all of Class 2 in Chloe Rear and Alana Findley, respectively.
“With the powerhouse hitters in the Mid-Lakes conference, the team is going to have to continue to excel defensively, but more importantly have lower classman step up to assist with big swings,” said Aurentz.
Marionville will open the 2017 season on Aug. 22 at home vs. Clever. The Lady Jays topped the Lady Comets in last year’s Class 2 – District 10 championship.