By Josh Hall (Josh.firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alexis Mitchell wants to establish a new culture as the head volleyball coach at Hollister High School.
And she hopes the Lady Tigers will soon be one the more-feared teams in Southwest Missouri.
“As a new coach you kind of bring in some new ideas that you have,” Mitchell said at the Licking Camp on July 13. “Right now we’re working on getting everyone to buy in, which I think we are. We’re on the same page. We want to win, we want to be good, we want people to take us seriously and we want to be that top program.”
She believes that could happen sooner than later.
“I think we have some potential that it could happen this year,” Mitchell said. “We have a lot of solid athletes and young ladies that are putting in the effort and that are putting in the time and hard work. I think we could make a real impact this year.”
Mitchell graduated from Blue Eye High School in 2012 and played volleyball at the University of Tulsa, where she earned a degree in psychology. She is the second Blue Eye athlete to play at an NCAA Division I program.
As a first-year coach, she takes over a Hollister team that went 9-16-5 last season after falling to Springfield Catholic in the first round of the Class 3 District 11 tournament.
“We’re building a new culture – staying intense, putting in the effort and being bold,” Mitchell said. “Our goal this year is having a winning season, and going from there. Right now we’re getting that growth, getting that culture to fight back and work hard.”
Hollister will be without two key pieces from last year’s team.
Gone to graduation is second-team all-Central Ozark Conference-Small Division selection Skyler Bruck, who finished the 2016 season with 143 kills, 136 assists and 32 aces. Caylee Kaempfer is another player that will be missed after tallying 293 digs as a senior.
Despite those losses, the Lady Tigers don’t enter the new season as an inexperienced team. Among those returning players is senior middle hitter Raven Ross, a first-team all-conference selection who had 151 kills, 31 blocks and 29 aces as a junior. Also back are juniors Angel Yalacki (outside hitter), and Trinity VanEngen (setter), along with sophomores Alli Muttillo (setter), Taylor Preston (middle hitter), Cierrah Riewski (right side) and Drew Henderson (defensive specialist/libero).
New to the mix is freshman outside hitter Kyla McClintiz.
So far, everything is going to plan for Mitchell.
“I’ve loved coaching these girls,” she said. “They’re awesome young ladies, but also awesome athletes. They work hard and make great effort. It’s been a joy.”