2018 All O-Zone Volleyball Team

By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

Few places in the Midwest have better volleyball players, per capita, than the Ozarks. The area had yet another eventful fall, sending a team to the Final Four in every class with Rogersville and Tammy Miller bringing home the lone state championship. Willard ended Ozark’s run in Class 4 and MV-BT/Liberty and Billings both made their way to Cape Girardeau as well.

With another great season of volleyball in the books, here are this season’s top players locally. Please note that players had to be nominated by their coach to receive consideration. As always, thank you to the area coaches that continue to advocate for the sport, their athletes and the area. Your help is vital to projects like these.

Ozarks Sports Zone Player of the Year: Birdie Henrickson, Rogersville
Hitter of the Year: Madison Hicks, Crane
Defensive Player of the Year: Alana Findley, Fair Grove
Setter of the Year: Ashton Wildermuth, Willard
Freshman of the Year: Tevi Gurley, El Dorado Springs
Co-Coach of the Year: Tammy Miller, Rogersville & Amanda Walker, McAuley Catholic

1st Team

Senior OH Alana Findley, Fair Grove

College: Drury (basketball)
Stats: 349 kills, 111 blocks, 199 digs
Awards: Class 2 All-State, All-Mid-Lakes, All-District

Findley is a four-year starter that shattered records throughout her career. Her 349 kills are impressive, but that is trumped by her .424 hitting percentage and 55% kill percentage. She’s a three-time all-state performer and leaves Fair Grove as the program’s all-time leader in blocks and second all-time in kills.

Opposing Coach Comment: “Alana is the ultimate athlete you want as a coach. Alana is coachable, hard-working, and isn’t afraid to fail if it will eventually take her to a higher level. Alana is a left-handed middle which by any coach’s standards it is almost impossible for a lefty player to be successful as a middle. However, she has taken her natural talent and hard-working attitude to become successful.”

Junior OH Birdie Hendrickson, Rogersville

College: Florida
Stats: 393 kills, 359 digs
Awards: Class 3 All-State, Big 8 Player of the Year, All-Big 8, All-District

Disney could make a movie about the season Rogersville and Hendrickson had. It had been two decades since a public Class 3 team won a state championship in volleyball, but that’s exactly what the Lady Cats did this season. She was at her best in big games, with 23 kills in a quarterfinal win over nationally-ranked Helias. She will likely be a MaxPreps All-American as well.

Opposing Coach Comment: “Birdie is a player that is known by all teams in our area and state. I coach at a school that is almost two hours from Rogersville and every girl on my team knows who she is. She is a phenomenal athlete, a player that most look up to and strive to be like. She stands out in numerous ways because of her intensity, amazing abilities and leadership on the court. She is a player that is in a league of her own and other teams fear when playing Logan-Rogersville.”

Senior OH Madison Hicks, Crane

College: SBU (track)
Stats: 431 kills, 173 blocks, 167 digs
Awards: Class 1 All-State, All-SWCL, All-District

The 5-foot-11 three-sport standout has been one of the area’s top athletes and her senior volleyball campaign was nothing but dominant. She was the only local player to exceed 400 kills this season, doing so with a .438 hitting percentage. She also led the area in blocks. She had 13 games of 15 or more kills, including a career-best 35 kills against Hurley. That’s the fifth-high total in Missouri history.

Opposing Coach Comment: “Hicks is one of those kids that, with her attitude and skill, refuses to lose and will and could single handedly win a game. She demands the ball and can do whatever she wants with it when hitting. I have never seen a Class 1 player consistently put the ball down in front of the 10-foot line but she can. With track being her favorite sport, it parallels over into making her an incredible volleyball player. She’s every coach’s dream player.”

Junior OH Tayte Kozlowski, Kickapoo

College: Drury
Awards: Class 4 All-State, All-Ozark Conference, All-District
Stats: 262 kills, 259 assists, 230 digs

Kozlowski was again one of the area’s most versatile players, becoming the only player in the area with at least 225 kills, digs and assists. Her versatility and leadership guided Kickapoo to yet another Ozark Conference championship. She had seven double-digit kill games, six double-digit dig games and eight double-digit assist games. Drury got a steal in Kozlowski.

Opposing Coach Comment: “Tayte is one of the most effective offensive players in SWMO, she’s explosive, fast arm and can hit any type of ball. She has the ability to dominate a match by her all-around ability at the net.”

Senior MB Julia McCown, Ozark

College: Missouri State
Stats: 275 kills, 76 blocks
Awards: Class 4 All-State, 1st Team All-COC, Honorable Mention All-American

The future Lady Bear saw an impressive increase in efficiency, seeing her hitting percentage, kill percentage and kills per set all increase. The 6-foot-2 standout had 10 double-digit kill matches this season. She was also one of the area’s most imposing defensive players at the net with six matches of at least five blocks.

Opposing Coach Comment: “Julia has been one of the most dominant forces at the net in the state of Missouri. Her size and quickness allow her to be an outstanding attacker and very effective blocker. When she is on the front row, she is hard to contain as she is able to execute a wide variety of sets and she is able to hit over and around most blocks. She plays consistent, confident, and composed. A very gifted player who will do great at the next level.”

Junior Setter Ashton Wildermuth, Willard

Stats: 904 assists, 222 digs
Awards: Class 4 All-State, 1st Team All-COC. 1st Team All-District
Willard snapped Ozark’s nearly decade-long Final Four streak and Wildermuth was at the center of it all, shattering the program’s single-season assists record in the process. The junior totaled six 30-assist games, including a career-high 45 assists in a three-set thriller against rival Nixa.

Opposing Coach Comment: “Ashton is an offensive key for her team. Their systems success is because of her ability to transform any ball into system for her hitters. I enjoyed watching how hard she works to get to the ball.”

2nd Team

Senior Setter Kennedee Anderson, Ozark

College: Missouri State
Stats: 682 assists, 28 kills
Awards: Class 4 All-State, 1st Team All-COC, All-District

Opposing Coach Comment: “Kennedee has been very successful at running the Ozark offense the past few seasons. The most coveted asset a setter can have is location, location, location. The ability to put the ball precisely where it needs to go. She is able to do this consistently, which allows her hitters to perform to their potential. Kennedee does not have highs and lows, she is a very even keeled player. Her teammates know they can count on her every match to run a great offense, and that she does. She’s one of the best setters to come through Ozark High School.”

Sophomore MH Maddy Bushnell, Willard

College: Missouri State
Stats: 275 kills, 54 blocks
Awards: Class 4 All-State, All-COC, All-District

Opposing Coach Comment: “Maddy is game changer. She makes you very aware that she is at the net. She makes your offense struggle with her blocking and puts a lot of pressure on your defense with her hitting. The scary thing is that she is only a sophomore and will only get better and more effective.”

Senior OH Piper Francis, MV-BT/Liberty

College: SIU-Edwardsville (basketball)
Stats: 305 kills, 52 blocks, 157 digs
Awards: Class 2 All-State, All-SCA, All-District

Opposing Coach Comment: “Piper was a force at the net. She is very athletic and was able to put the ball down consistently. She hit around the block well and played great defense. She is a very quick player and made it hard for her opponents to get a ball past her.”

Junior DS Lexie Gregory, Nixa

College: Central Arkansas
Stats: 408 digs
Awards: All-COC, All-District

Opposing Coach Comment: “Gregory plays with a high level of energy and competitiveness which makes everyone around her better. She is able to send the message to her opponent that she is there to win and she will do everything in her ability to make that happen for her team. She plays defense with determination, makes big hustle plays, and plays big in big games.”

Senior OH Grace Southern, Carl Junction

College: Central Missouri
Stats: 266 kills, 235 digs, 31 aces
Awards: Class 4 All-State, 1st Team All-COC, All-District

Opposing Coach Comment: “A physical 6’1″ player at the net, Grace quickly establishes her strong presence in the front row. She is a very disciplined and intimidating pin blocker, forcing front row setters to think twice about a second ball attack and can frustrate a very good right side. Grace finds and creates ways to score as an attacker either by finding open holes in the defense, tooling off the block, or just by powering through to put the ball to the floor.”

Junior OH Claire Taylor, Rogersville

College: Drury
Stats: 243 kills, 273 digs
Awards: Class 3 All-State, 1st Team All-District, All-Big 8

Opposing Coach Comment: “Claire was a hidden gem for Rogersville. She was a very steady six-rotation player that lit up the net when her team needed her. She was a major threat on the outside and brought so much energy to the court. An opposing team could not just relax when Birdie moved to the back row because of Claire. Claire was a different kind of threat than Birdie, but one that demanded your attention just the same.”

3rd Team

Junior OH Alexa Boyle, Carthage

Stats: 298 kills, 44 aces
Awards: 1st Team All-COC

Opposing Coach Comment: “Alexa is a very dynamic player. She impacts the game at the net and on defense. She has a powerful serve and is capable of going on big runs in the match. She is a great all-around player.”

Senior MH Daise Cruse, Willard

College: Pitt State
Stats: 187 kills, 50 blocks, 258 digs
Awards: Class 4 All-State, All-COC, All-District

Opposing Coach Comment: “Daise is well-rounded player. She does a good job of controlling the net with her block and see the floor well to find open spots off her swing. And then she goes to the back row and has great ball control and defensive instincts to continue to control the match.”

Senior MB Sydney Ernsbarger, Nevada

College: SBU
Stats: 213 kills, 88 blocks
Awards: Class 3 All-State, Big 8 Player of the Year, All-Big 8, All-District

Opposing Coach Comment: “Sydney was huge asset to Nevada’s front row. She could put up a tremendous block and could hit just about anything that is set to her. She was definitely hard to defend because you never knew what she where she was going with the ball.”

Senior OH Chelsea Evans, Sarcoxie

Stats: 312 kills, 202 digs, 37 aces
Awards: Class 2 All-State, Southwest Conference Player of the Year, All-SWC, All-District

Opposing Coach Comment: “Chelsea did a great job in every position. She was Sarcoxie’s go to girl because she was so effective every time she touched the ball. She seemed to be able to rally her team when needed.”

Junior OH Bailey Groves, Billings

Stats: 316 kills, 418 digs
Awards: Class 1 All-State, Co-SWCL Player of the Year, All-SWCL, All-District

Opposing Coach Comment: “Groves is a kid who runs her team with her leadership and especially her skill. She just gets the job done without being flashy or needing the spotlight. A true team player.”

Senior OH Julia McVey, Aurora

Stats: 289 kills, 268 digs, 62 aces
Awards: Class 3 All-State, Co-Big 8 Player of the Year, All-Big 8, All-District

Opposing Coach Comment: “Julia is a good all-around player. She does a good job in serve receive while transitioning to her offensive game. Julia works hard to change up her offensive game which cause trouble to Aurora’s opponents.”

All-Freshman Team

Setter Sydney Golden, Nixa

Stats: 617 assists, 146 digs, three 30-assist matches
Awards: All-COC, All-District

OH Tevi Gurley, El Dorado Springs

Stats: 202 kills, 333 assists, 154 digs, 64 aces
Awards: All-Ozark Mountain Conference, All-District

Setter Gabie McVey, Aurora

Stats: 522 assists, 51 aces
Awards: All-Big 8, All-District

Setter Alli Mitchell, Miller

Stats: 661 assists, 129 digs
Awards: All-Southwest Conference, All-District

MB Sharayah Seymour, Cassville

Stats: 141 kills, 194 assists, 165 digs, 67 blocks
Awards: All-Big 8

Setter Kenna Wise, Clever

Stats: 369 assists, 209 digs
Awards: All-Mid Lakes Conference, All-District

Final Power Rankings

1. Rogersville (C3: 40-2)
2. Willard (C4: 32-5-3)
3. MV/BT-Liberty (C2: 30-9-1)
4. Billings (C1: 26-6-2)
5. Marshfield (C3: 26-6-3)
6. Ozark (C4: 29-5-1)
7. Blue Eye (C1: 25-9)
8. Strafford (C2: 26-6-1)
9. Fair Grove (C2: 27-6-2)
10. Nixa (C4: 22-9-2)
11. Kickapoo (C4: 24-10)
12. Clever (C2: 24-6-2)
13. El Dorado Springs (C2: 28-8-2)
14. Nevada (C3: 25-8)
15. Miller (C1: 27-6-2)