By Chris Parker
Strafford came up one set short of winning a Class 2 State Championship last year to finish 32-5-3 overall. The Lady Indians will have to replace four seniors from that squad including all-state selections Chloe Rear and Madison Bowles.
Rear, who will go down an all-time program great, will be especially tough to replace as she led the Lady Indians in kills (377) and assists (513) last year. She will be playing her college volleyball at Missouri State.
“Chloe is a fantastic athlete and player. She brought so much to our team and program over the last few years. She was a student of the game and a big part of our success was part of her contributions,” head coach Ashley Bough said. “Chloe has a natural competitive nature and is so experienced at the game. We will miss her knowledge and leadership, but we also have a great group of kids ready to step up and compete.”
The returning players are motivated to keep the strong recent tradition of Strafford volleyball rolling.
“Our kids have worked extremely hard this summer to step into new roles on and off the court,” Bough said. “They have big goals but also know that to be successful, we have to take one day at a time. We are looking forward to season starting to continue to see our growth.”
All-state junior Mica Chadwell returns after tallying 125 kills, 186 digs and 38 aces last year.
“Mica’s position will not change, but her role on our team will,” Bough said. “She will now be a veteran player playing with a new group on the court with her. I am looking forward to seeing her grow as a leader the most.”
Allisan Nichols earned all-conference honors as a libero last season. She accrued 326 digs to lead the team.
“We enter this season with Allisann’s experience as a libero along with another veteran defensive player. Alli has put in a tough offseason and has worked extremely hard to not only improve her skills but also her leadership,” Bough said. “This senior group has set goals and has aspiration to continue to get better with each game. The have great chemistry and honestly push each other to be better.”
Seniors Katie Waitman (right side/outside hitter), Victoria Schoen (defensive specialist) and Kentessa McMillen (middle blocker) return to the varsity lineup.
The junior quartet of Kaitlyn Vote (outside hitter), Sue Wiertzema (middle blocker), Madalynn Ward (setter) and Taylor Dormann (middle blocker) along with senior Kaitlyn Messina (setter) will be some new faces to watch this year.
“We return a few starters, but have a new dynamic with new setters and attackers. Our goal is to work hard every practice, work hard every game and take each point one at a time,” Bough said. “This team has the ability to be as good as they want, so I know that if they work hard and continue to improve, they can accomplish anything.”
Strafford opens the season on Aug. 25 at the Branson Tournament.