By Chris Parker
Sarcoxie came up just one match short of earning a bid to the Class 2 Final Four last season. The Lady Bears fell in two sets to eventual state runner-up Strafford to finish the season 28-6-2.
Coach Lindsay Perigo will have to replace one key piece in hitter Micah Edwards who was second on the team with 248 kills last year. She led the team in blocks (149) and service aces (36).
“Micah was a force at the net by creating a wall and then transitioning quickly to offense. This of course will be missed, but what I will miss most about having her on the court is her sheer determination to win. She put in work year-round and that type of dedication helped us secure back-to-back district championships,” Perigo said.
Fortunately for Sarcoxie, the other four all-conference honorees return with six total seniors that played in at least 50 sets last year.
All-state senior outside hitter Chelsea Evans is at the head of those returning players. She put down 298 kills to lead the team last year and was second in digs (152), aces (32) and serve-receives (200).
“Chelsea Evans is such a great athlete, she is very strong and works hard to be competitive all while being a positive presence on the court,” Perigo said. “She is technique driven, always striving to perfect what she is doing. Chelsea is also very mature and coachable, which allows her to keep growing and get even better.”
Senior Peyton Kisling had 212 kills last season, which gave the Lady Bears a diverse attack with three players eclipsing the 200-kill mark.
“We emphasized increasing our hitting percentage last season by taking advantage of every opportunity, which led to three players with over 200 kills,” Perigo said. “Peyton is very savvy with her hit selection. She does a great job reading the defense and taking what is open by placing the ball or tooling off the block.”
Kisling will play both outside and middle hitter this season.
The player that makes the attack go is setter Kierston Dodson. Dodson accounted for 757 of the team’s 825 assists last season.
“She is the definition of hustle and grit,” Perigo said. “Having a strategic setter run the offense helps us stay competitive. Kierston will be focusing on delivering consistent balls to keep the team in rhythm and continue being a great leader.”
Senior Giselle Lopez is the final returning all-conference player. She is the key player on the backline after she led the team in digs (297) and serve-receives (310) last year as a junior.
Destiny Lee returns for her senior season in the middle after finishing second on the team in blocks with 110. Kiya Boswell is a senior outside hitter who missed have of last season due to injury.
Sophomore Chloe Lee (defensive specialist) and freshman Jaycee Roth (opposite hitter) will look to make a varsity impact this season.
Sarcoxie will move from the defunct SRVC to the Southwest Conference that features former SRVC foes Diamond, Lockwood, Miller and Pierce City along with former Mid-Lakes Conference schools Ash Grove, Marionville and Pleasant Hope.
“Our new conference will be comprised of larger schools and very competitive matches,” Perigo said. “The change has also allowed us to strengthen our schedule by playing schools like Nevada, Mt. Vernon, and Strafford during the regular season.”
Sarcoxie has a new conference and an experienced team, but the expectations remain a constant.
“My expectations will remain the same as each prior season. We want to compete at our highest level possible each time we step on the floor,” Perigo said. “The players are working on being good teammates, students, and building strong personal character so they are successful and respected in whatever they pursue in life.”
Sarcoxie opens the season on Aug. 27 at home against New Covenant.