By Chris Parker
Hurley volleyball won 22 matches last year behind a senior-laden group of players that included Paige Simpson, Hailey Chamberlain, Samantha Hall, Jazmin Florez and Hailey White. That group led Hurley in every statistical category.
“Those seniors were more than volleyball players. They were the leaders in the hallways at school every day. They set examples of what it meant to be a Hurley Lady Tiger and I won’t be the only one missing that group, their absence will be felt school wide. This will be my third season at Hurley and I was blessed with a strong dedicated group in those seniors but I know they let a lasting impression on my underclassmen,” Hurley Head Coach Laken Walden said.
Those underclassmen will have to step up quickly this year if the Lady Tigers are to keep up the success of last year’s 22-win campaign.
“I think finding their individual roles and stepping out from behind the shadows those seniors had on them (will be the biggest challenge for the returning players). They are all stepping up great so far but we have a lot to work on when it comes to communication and finding that leadership,” Walden said.
Sophomore Maraya Schimmels looks to be a team leader this year. She saw action in 42 sets last season and will be a defensive specialist.
“Maraya Schimmels has really stepped up in Coach Moody and I’s eyes. She holds her teammates accountable and is a voice for the coaches out on the court,” Walden said.
Freshman Rayann Butler will have an immediate impact at setter. She has club experience and will run the attack for Hurley.
Mylee Chamberlain suffered an ankle injury last year, which limited her to 48 sets. She is back healthy this year and will be the top hitter for Walden’s team. Sophomore Lexie Small also returns to outside hitter.
Two seniors will be new to the varsity lineup including Joanna Moody and Anna Lowery.
Walden hopes this group can come together to replicate the success experienced by last year’s team.
“We are a ‘young-new’ team and I feel like many are looking down on us this season. I’m ready to surprise a few teams and we are looking to compete later in the season. I think this will be a growing year but midseason is like to see all gears working to the full potential,” Walden said.
Hurley will travel to Purdy on Tuesday, Aug. 27 for a jamboree with the host Lady Eagles, Southwest and Cassville.
The Lady Tigers open the regular season on Aug. 30 at home against Fordland.