By Josh Hall (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bolivar High School volleyball coach Krystal Allen is confident she has all of the necessary pieces to make a successful team.
The Liberators graduated two starters from last year’s team that went 21-8-4 after falling to Helias in a Class 3, District 10 semifinal, but they return five players that have seen time at the varsity level during the past two seasons.
“There aren’t any major changes to our lineup, so I expect to be just as strong or stronger this year,” Allen said. “I feel like I can say, ‘Ok, go run this drill.’ They know the expectations, the work ethic and I’m just really pleased. They could probably just show up and coach themselves at this point.”
Bolivar graduated Kiley Ramsey and Kelsie Barber, two players that put up solid numbers in 2016. As a setter, Ramsey recorded 767 assists and also led the team with 41 aces while adding 142 digs. Barber led the team with 363 digs and 537 receptions.
While the Liberators look to replace Ramsey and Barber, Bolivar looks forward to leaning on another duo that both earned First-Team Central Ozark Conference-Small honors.
Anna Wolf and Hope White combined for 596 kills last season and are expected to be a threat again this year. Wolf led the Liberators with 300 kills and 57 blocks to go along with 189 digs and 155 receptions. White tallied 296 kills, 53 blocks, 40 aces 185 digs and 272 receptions in 2016.
“They’re a threat on the front row and on the back row,” Allen said. “That brings some incredible strength and stability to the lineup. They’re just so dependable and consistent. And the fact that they’re on the court all the time is just so valuable.
“They both also have incredible attitudes and leadership skills, as well. They’re both kind of that All-American volleyball player out there.”
Wolf and White will be surrounded by a solid supporting cast, including seniors Tara Brooks, Ashley Rash and Julia Phillips.
Also back after starting as a freshman is Emma Larimore, who will transition to libero this season.
“I expect her numbers to be phenomenal,” Allen said.
Brooks will team up with junior Corinne Ames as setters for Bolivar, which runs a 5-2 rotation.
“They’ve been working all summer,” Allen said. “I think we’re feeling really comfortable with them at this point.”
Sophomores Lily Shepard and Kaylita Jones, along with juniors Audrey Hendnberg and Elli Burns will complete the varsity roster for the Liberators, who open the season Aug. 22 at Osceola.
“This year we have had to spend the least amount of time on the fundamentals and skill basics than we have since I’ve been here,” Allen said. “The program as a whole is more advanced.”