By Chris Parker
Lamar came up one match short of making the Class 2 state tournament last year with a straight-set loss to Sarcoxie in the Class 2 District 11 Championship to finish with a 22-10-1 record.
All-state hitter Katelyn Mooney and all-conference setter Darrah Bartlett graduated from that team.
Leading the returners will be senior Lauren Compton. Compton led the team with 277 digs while finishing second in kills with 177 and blocks with 38.
“Her (Compton’s) athleticism and overall competitiveness are what allows her to affect the game in so many ways. We expect to be a leader and our biggest asset in developing our program,” Lamar head coach Chelsie Griffin said.
Junior Ryen Willhite along with sophomores Sierra White and Lizzy Davison will also be key hitters this season.
Sophomore Parker Evans will see an expanded role as a defensive specialist. Freshmen Emma Johnson (setter) and Kyleigh Talbott (middle hitter) should also see some time in the varsity lineup.
The Big 8 added five COC Small schools and divided into two divisions. Lamar will be in the Big 8 West with Cassville, East Newton, McDonald County, Monett, Nevada and Seneca, so things will remain relatively steady for Lamar’s schedule.
“We just added Nevada and Lost Mt. Vernon so we won’t see too much change,” Griffin said. “It will be interesting to see how this first year plays out towards the end of the season when the two divisions match up.”
Griffin’s expectations for her team are simple this year.
“We expect to compete in every game we play and give ourselves the opportunity to win,” Griffin said.
Lamar opens the season on Aug. 28 at home against Aurora.