By Chris Parker
Ash Grove volleyball enters a new conference this season coming off a 19-win season a year ago. The Lady Pirates will have to replace their first-team all-conference middle hitter Catie Martin as the Lady Pirates being play in the Southwest Conference.
“We are excited to be making this move to the new Southwest Conference because this change does present multiple opportunities to learn and new challenges to see across the net,” second-year head coach Diana Dreier. “We will miss our adversaries from the Mid-Lakes Conference and we wish them the best in their upcoming season. However, the schools in the SWC have all been working hard this summer in preparation for our first conference season together and I believe all of us will not disappoint our fans and communities in the 417 area.”
Kindell Coambes is the lone returning all-conference player for Ash Grove. She earned second-team all-conference honors at outside hitter last season.
“Kindell’s role on this year’s team is to be a consistent strength, encourager, and mentor to our entire team – junior varsity and varsity,” Dreier said. “Coach Lina Langley and I have those expectations of her, and we are already witnessing her taking on this challenging role throughout the summer.”
Kate Hodges and Kylynn Thompson are two players to watch at defensive specialist with Hodges provided some offense as well. Seniors Alli Duncan (setter) and Kenzie Connell (middle/opposite hitter) will also expand their roles on varsity.
Juniors Emily Martin, Riley Hammons and Taylor Spickard along with sophomores Emma Eagleburger, Olivia Steimel and Briley Bagley will be some new faces to watch on varsity this season.
Dreier is using a single quote to help guide her team this season.
“This year the team’s philosophy will be following this anonymous quote, ‘It’s not about being the best, it’s about being better than you were yesterday.’ The best is always changing. So, how can we strive to be the best when the best is undefined? All we can do is prepare for the future by improving our individual abilities that we have either been successful or unsuccessful with and enjoy the journey they present us,” Dreier said.
Ash Grove opens the season on Aug. 28 at former Mid-Lakes rival Stockton.