By Chris Parker
Few volleyball programs in southwest Missouri will have higher expectations this season than Billings.
The Lady Wildcats won the Class 1 District 6 Championship before falling to Miller in three sets in the Class 1 sectional round.
Every player returns from that team.
Junior Bailey Groves is at the head of that group of returners coming off of a first-team all-conference season. She led the Lady Wildcats in kills (247), aces (43) and digs (307) last season.
“What makes her so versatile is she knows the game and knows how to read the other team,” Billings head coach Brandi Sillavan said. “When she is on the front row she is able to see the court and find the holes that are open, and when she is on the back row she is able to read the hitter and line up where there are swinging.”
Liz Gearing was second-team all-conference last season coming off of a 584-assist season.
“I expect her to be a leader for the team. She is our captain so she will have a big role of keeping the team on track due to her experience and help pull the team out of tight situations,” Sillavan said. “Due to our hitters, Liz will have many options and will be able to run a lot things. The main thing her setting options will rely on is what hitters is on, and the blockers from the other team.”
Bailie Williams, Kortney Kimberling, Morgan Heimer and Lexy VanZandt will all be key players for the varsity this season. Williams, who was honorable mention all-conference last season as a sophomore, put down 180 kills last season. Heimer (143 kills) and Kimberling (134 kills) were third and fourth on the team in that category last year. VanZandt is a strong defensive player coming off of a 293-dig season.
All that firepower has Silliavan excited for what 2018 could bring for her team.
“With the whole team returning, we are hoping to again get another 20-win season this year, but we would like to add a few tournament wins, and make it further in the postseason,” Sillivan said.
Billings opens the season on Aug. 27 at Pierce City.