By Chris Parker
Fair Grove has been one of the area’s most consistently excellent programs over the last half decade with six consecutive 25-win seasons.
That number could easily reach seven in coach Tonya Peck’s 18th year as the head coach of Fair Grove Volleyball.
All-state selection Shyan Proctor and first-team all-conference honoree Sierra Anderjaska graduated.
Even with those losses, the return of senior Alana Findley alone is worth an extremely optimistic outlook. The all-state senior has been a staple in the varsity lineup at Fair Grove since her first day on campus. Last year she led the Lady Eagles in kills (350) and blocks (68) while finishing top three on the team in aces (30), digs (181) and serve-receives (181).
“Alana is the most naturally athletic kid I have ever coached,” Peck said. “She has speed, hops, and a deadly left hand. She is a huge factor for us at the net, not just in offense, but in blocking as well. What makes Alana so special is that she just loves to compete and doesn’t let outside factors influence her. She also makes everyone around her a better player. Her teammates love to play with her. We will continue to look to her offensively and as a captain as well.”
All-conference senior Ryah Icenhower and junior Maranntha Holliman give Fair Grove two strong setting options after then accounted for 397 and 339 assists, respectively last season.
“Ryah and Maranntha have matured so much at running our offense. We have some very good offensive options and they have done a great job at knowing who to set and when,” Peck said. “What is great about having both of them is that they are comfortable at staying and playing defense knowing they have a secondary setter that is capable of running the offense when they pass. This trust has strengthened our defense. I have given them some more freedom at calling plays this summer. They have worked hard at incorporating new things and I’m excited to see them continue to run our offense.”
No. 2 hitter and all-conference honoree Sidney Hill returns as a strong offensive option after putting down 156 kills last season.
“Sidney is not a big middle but is extremely athletic and versatile,” Peck said. “She is quick and can run many options offensively and she is not afraid to try new things. We will look for her to fine tune her skills and continue to add to our net play as one of our go to hitters.”
Shannon Collins gives Fair Grove one final returning all-conference player at libero. She was second on the team with 197 digs last season. She takes over for Proctor at the position this year.
“Shannon is filling some big shoes at the libero spot,” Peck said. “What is great about Shannon is that she is also a steady pass like Shyan. She has had a great summer and we look for her defensive leadership to continue to grow.”
Seniors Harley Maxwell (right side) and Cydney Fullerton (outside hitter) along with junior Bailee Morgan (outside hitter/right side) return to the varsity lineup.
Macey Stallings (senior defensive specialist), Brystol Bates (senior outside hitter/right side) and Lizzy Gravitt (right side/middle hitter) will step up with time on varsity.
The returning experience has Fair Grove ready to make a run at its first Final Four since 2013.
“We have pretty high expectations this season. The girls have made it clear that they want more out of this year, including a postseason run,” Peck said. “We have a strong group of all upperclassmen. Our focus and discipline has been what we have highlighted this summer. We know that in order to make our goals a reality, it will take more than just a desire to win. We are capable of doing some fun things offensively, which we have worked on this summer. We also know that a scrappy team is frustrating to compete against so we have made it a goal to pick up our defense. Though we have some areas of strength, we know that we still have areas to work on.”
Fair Grove opens the season on Aug. 25 at the Branson Tournament.