By Chris Parker
Nixa loses just three seniors from last season’s 22-11 team, but they were a key trio that included all-state selection Madison Grantham and all-conference selections Regan Ansley and Taylor Gregory.
“I will definitely miss their consistency,” fourth-year Nixa head coach Annie Zimmerman said. “We could always count on them to do their job night in night out and do it well.”
One all-conference player returns in junior Kenzie Hines who was second on the team with 198 kills and added in 126 digs.
“Kenzie is an extremely smart player and sees the floor well. She is also able to make adjustments based on what the defense is taking away,” Zimmerman said. “She has worked hard to increase her overall strength and is always looking for ways to get better. I have seen her develop into a great floor leader this summer and will likely play multiple positions for us this season.”
Senior Ciera Reyes and junior Jordan Collard put down 156 and 132 kills, respectively, last season, which gives the Nixa attack a strong stable of options to choose from.
“The more quality hitting options our offense has the harder it is for opposing defenses to focus on just one or two players or take advantage of weak offensive rotations,” Zimmerman said. “We have a lot of different offensive options which should hopefully create some one on one opportunities for our hitters.”
Lexie Gregory led the team with 35 aces in 2017 to go with her 246 digs and 269 serve-receives. She will be competing for the libero position this year. Lily Simmons will step up in the hitting game in her sophomore season at middle hitter and right side.
Seniors Johna Wager (defensive specialist/libero)m Mikayla Routh (defensive specialist/setter) and Abby Lay (right side) along with juniors Camryn Carter (middle hitter) and Lauren Weber (outside hitter/right side) and sophomores Taylor Golmen (middle hitter/right side) and Olivia Engelman (setter) will look to step up to the varsity level this year. Freshmen Sydney Golden (setter) and Jaycee Fixsen (outside hitter/middle hitter) will look to make an immediate varsity impact.
Nixa will be looking to compete in the always tough Central Ozark Conference and equally as tough district.
“Our conference and district are full of high quality programs and we respect the fact that no win will come easy,” Zimmerman said. “If we continue to embrace the competitive environment in our practice gym throughout the season, we have the ability to compete for both titles.”