By Chris Parker
Lockwood entered the district tournament as a No. 3 seed last season, but that didn’t stop the Lady Tigers from upsetting No. 2 Jasper and No. 1 Liberal on the way to a Class 1 District 9 Championship. They would fall just one match short of the Class 1 Final Four falling to eventual Class 1 State Runner-Up New Haven.
The Lady Tigers enter the eighth-season of the Jamie Roschevitz era having to replace first-team all-conference hitting and setting duo Moriah Coose and Rylee Neill. Coose led the team with 342 kills while Neill dished out 580 assists.
“Moriah and Rylee were not only great athletes but they were also great leaders and role models for the younger girls,” Roschevitz said. “I will miss their leadership and experience and overall knowledge of the game. We always could count on them to get the job done.”
Seniors Heather Byrnes (middle hitter) and Lillian Eggerman (outside hitter) will be the go-to hitters this season after putting down 149 and 144 kills. Byrnes was second on the team in aces with 39 and blocking with 39. That earned her second-team all-conference honors last year.
“While they have been very strong players since they have been in high school this season they will have to be our go-to hitters,” Roschevitz said. “Not only will they need to be strong hitters they will need to step into the leadership role of last year’s seniors. They both have a lot of varsity experience over the past four years and I know they will step into the senior role very well.”
Makenzie Purinton will be the top defensive player for the Lady Tigers and play libero and outside hitter. She led the team in digs with 388 and serve-receives with 291 against just 16 errors.
Junior outside hitter Emma Bronson and senior defensive specialists Abriel Vaughn and Kourtney Mein return to the team this year.
Lockwood enters a new conference this season in the Southwest Conference. It is comprised of familiar SRVC foes Diamond, Miller, Pierce City and Sarcoxie along with former Mid-Lakes schools Ash Grove, Marionville and Pleasant Hope.
“It will be a very competitive conference once again, but we are used to seeing most of the teams either in regular season games or tournaments. So the new teams will not change much,” Roschevitz said.
Lockwood opens the season on Aug. 25 at the Verona Invitational.