By Jordan Burton – @thejordanburton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Each week Ozarks Sports Zone ranks the top teams in Southwest Missouri based on dominance by class, essentially the pound-for-pound comparison of those teams compared to the best in the state. Rankings are sponsored by CoxHealth. Below, you’ll also find our awards for last week’s top performances. If you’d like to nominate a player for O-Zone Player of the Week, please forward stats and information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. (1) Strafford (C2: 11-1)
The road winning streak is now up to 23 games after a pair of nonconference wins over Mountain Grove and Marshfield, followed by a Mid-Lakes win over Pleasant Hope. Strafford has dropped just a single set in the last 18 days. Super senior duo Chloe Rear and Madi Bowles had 19 and 14 kills respectively in the Marshfield win. The Strafford VolleyFest and a visit from Ash Grove make this a huge week.
2. (2) Rogersville (C3: 15-2-1)
Don’t look now, but here come the Lady Cats. Make it 14 straight wins after going to Kansas City and winning the Winnetonka Tournament, dropping just one set in the process. Rogersville followed that up with a sweep of Glendale. A trip to Willard will offer some revenge potential in our GOTW, followed by a COC Small tilt with Buffalo.
3. (3) Willard (C4: 19-0)
Speaking of Willard, the Lady Tigers continue to be the surprise of the fall. There was no doubt Willard would be good this year, but I’m not sure anyone expected them to be this dominant; they’ve dropped two sets all year. Willard won the Hillcrest Tournament, beating Jeff City in two for the title. The Lady Tigers then beat Lebanon and Nixa on back-to-back days, winning nine games in four days. Rogersville and the Lake Volleyfest will bring more quality games this week.
4. (4) Fair Grove (C2: 14-3-2)
Fair Grove went and did Fair Grove things at the Ash Grove Tournament, winning it for the ninth (9, NINE, nueve) time in a row. That’s dominant, but the fact they’ve dropped just eight sets in that time and never lost a pool game in that span is even crazier. The Lady Eagles have now won seven straight. Alana Findley continues to chase records, she’s at 184 kills and 64 blocks; that includes 65 kills this weekend. Fair Grove is at Skyline this week.
5. (5) Winona (C1: 10-4-2)
Winona had yet another rugged weekend battling schools with enrollments five and six times as big, but it was still an impressive weekend. The Lady Cats took third in the SEMO Tournament, including a win over Class 4 Grandview. Winona did lose to Class 1 St. Vincent. Clearwater and MV-BT/Liberty are up this week.
6. (6) Aurora (C3: 10-2-1)
The losses to Carl Junction and Willard look better and better as the season goes on and keep in mind this team owns a win over Rogersville. Aurora swept Hollister and Marshfield last week but has a big week coming up. At Catholic and this weekend’s Strafford VolleyFest could offer a showdown with Strafford.
7. (8) Miller (C1: 15-3-1)
Miller might be the only team in the area that lost twice last week and got much better. The Lady Cards dropped two to Fair Grove, pushing the Lady Eagles to three sets in the semifinals of the Ash Grove Tournament. Miller also split with a really good Billings team and beat Ash Grove and Monett. Miller has a huge week with Billings and Pierce City coming up. Also, keep an eye on Lynna Hadlock, who now has 259 digs.
8. (NR) Nixa (C4:8-3)
The Lady Eagles make their first appearance in the 2017 power rankings following an impressive weekend at the Springfield Classic, going 5-0 and beating Kickapoo in the championship. Standout senior Regan Ansley had 11 kills and 14 digs in that game. Nixa did lose its COC opener to Willard on Tuesday in three sets, but this team still has wins over Glendale and Rock Bridge. Branson comes to Nixa before a rematch with Kickapoo this week.
9. (7) Kickapoo (C4: 16-4)
MaxPreps loves the Lady Chiefs, ranking Kickapoo No. 3 in Missouri based on the computer poll. Of Poo’s four losses, two have come against nationally-ranked Helias and the other two have come against COC powers Nixa and Ozark. A rematch with Nixa and an OC matchup with Parkview are up this week. Kickapoo is tied atop the Ozark Conference standings with Glendale.
10. (9) Ozark (C4: 7-4)
Ozark had a slow week with just Carthage on the schedule, which was a 2-0 win. The Lady Tigers have a busy week that should test their mettle with Neosho, Lee’s Summit North Tournament and Carl Junction on the docket. We should know a ton about this team by next week. And, if you’re looking for the next stud at Ozark, look at junior Julia McCown. The 6-foot-2 junior has had three double-digit kill games including 15 vs. Rogersville.
Carl Junction (C4: 6-2), Billings (C1: 9-3-1), Eminence (C3: 8-3-1), Clever (C2: 8-4-2), Lockwood (C1: 7-4-1) Licking (C2: 12-2), Cassville (C3: 7-1), Bolivar (C3: 8-2-1)
O-Zone Player of the Week: Madison Grantham, Nixa
It’s typically tough for a defensive player to win this award but Grantham was a back row star. She’s had double-digit digs in each of her last six games, which includes 33 in a win over Kickapoo. She had 119 digs in seven matches this week and accumulated a 2.07 serve pass rating. Grantham has committed to Arkansas Tech.
Hammer of the Week: Tori Collins, Miller
Despite being undersized, Collins was able to put together another solid week with 57 kills and 16 blocks. That includes 12 kills against an athletic Fair Grove front line and 10 kills on 11 attack attempts vs. Greenfield. She’s one of Missouri’s leaders in kills with 174.
Shovel of the Week: Kasey Brower, Willard
The senior libero had 19 digs vs. Nixa, which was her sixth game with at least 14 digs. Willard has been awesome defensively this year – which is why they’ve only dropped two sets this season – and Brower has been a huge part of that. She has more than 1,000 career digs.
Chloe Rear, Strafford – 26 assists and 19 kills in win over Marshfield
Sophie Sparks, Fordland – 27 digs vs. Plato
Jessica Zengel, Joplin – 49 kills and 42 digs in Hillcrest Tournament
Lauren Jones, Greenfield – 9 kills, 19 digs vs. Golden City
Janae Johnson, Parkview – 18 blocks in two games
Wendy Smith, Willow Springs – 14 kills and 20 digs vs. Willow Springs
Co-Game of the Week: Rogersville at Willard
Two of the top teams in the Ozarks will square off with an undefeated record on the line and the winner likely taking over the No. 1 spot in the power rankings. Willard is obviously unbeaten at home this year (10-0), but the Class of 2018 is 36-4 at home in a Willard uniform. Meanwhile, LogRog is looking for a little revenge after finishing fifth to Willard’s first in the Lori Endicott Invitational. The Lady Tigers have been great defensively, which has been aided by a big block set by junior Daisie Cruse and sophomore Emily Terry. They’ll have their hands full with Birdie Hendrickson (148 kills in 2017) and Gabby Massengale (107 kills in 2017).
Co-Game of the Week: Strafford VolleyFest
This is routinely one of the top events in the area each year and this will be no exception. Strafford alone is good enough to make it marquee event, but throw in Class 3 Aurora and Class 1 Lockwood and things could get interesting. The Lady Indians have won it three straight years, they’ll likely have to beat another team in the rankings to make it a four-peat.
Carl Junction at Republic
Sarcoxie at Lockwood
Billings at Fordland
Miller at Billings
Winon at MV-BT/Liberty
Ash Grove at Strafford
Ozark at Carl Junction
Nixa at Kickapoo
Bolivar at Marshfield
College Spotlight: Ivy Reynolds, Lindenwood
Last year Lindenwood didn’t win its sixth game until October 8th, part of an 11-19 season. This year the Lady Lions are off to a 6-2 start and the former Ozark three-sport standout is a large reason why. Reynolds, a senior, has found herself playing all the way around and currently leads the team with 147 assists and ranks third in digs (73). As a senior at Ozark, Reynolds was an all-stater thanks to 188 kills, 304 digs and 93 blocks.
NOTE: If your scores are not reported to O-Zone, your team will not be considered for Power Rankings.