By Chris Parker
Cabool volleyball found immediate success in the first season under head coach Julia Reaves by winning 26 matches and advancing to a district title game before falling to MV-BT Liberty.
“We have been working very hard this off-season on and off the floor. The girls are bonding well and I think that can be seen on the floor as they play a lot like a big family. These girls put in the effort and are a very hardworking group. These girls are mostly the same group that I had last year. They know what I expect of them and are hungry,” Reaves said.
The Lady Bulldogs will have to replace top hitter and first-team all-conference selection Jaydra Johnson who led the team with 307 kills.
Olivia Sheets will provide stability to the offense, as she returns to her setter position. She accounted for 617 assists on her way to a second-team all-conference selection last year.
“She is continually improving and feeling confident at attacking the ball and finding holes in the defense. We are working on running a quick and consistent offense,” Reaves said.
Katlynn Ellison will key the defense at libero in her senior season. She was an all-conference honorable mention selection after leading Cabool with 332 digs last season.
“She is very quick and can read very well. She does a great job of making adjustments. I look for her to take on the senior leadership role this year,” Reaves said.
Elizabeth Whetstine rounds out the returning all-conference players for Cabool. Her 120 kills were the second-most for the Lady Bulldogs last year. She earned honorable mention all-conference honors.
“She is very coachable and also is our spark. I look to her when we need to get some energy going,” Reaves said.
Carly Bennett (junior middle hitter), Josie Atkins (junior setter/right side), Hailey Shannon (sophomore outside hitter), Gracie Campbell (junior defensive specialist/outside hitter) and Abigail Chalfant (junior defensive specialist) all return to the varsity lineup this year. Shannon was third on the team with 118 kills. Chalfant was the team’s top server with a team-high 67 aces.
Senior Grace Shockley will join the team this year as a middle hitter.
Cabool will host Houston, MV-BT Liberty and Willow Springs for a jamboree on Aug. 27. The Lady Bulldogs open the regular season on Sept. 3 at home against Fordland.