By Chris Parker
Ava volleyball made a big jump in Head Coach Emily Petty’s first year last year going from just four wins in 2018 to 14 wins last year.
Petty returns two all-conference seniors from that squad led by Second-Team All-SCA hitter Claire Fossett.
“Claire came in as a very dynamic player. She is super athletic. She has learned more about the game in the year and a half I have been with her, and she continues to improve,” Petty said.
Fossett will be spending more time in the middle this year after being primarily an outside hitter last year.
Olivia Heirford is the second all-conference player returning. She was Honorable Mention All-SCA as a hitter last year.
“Olivia brings a leadership quality. She isn’t our strongest hitter, but she is probably our smartest hitter. She can place the ball basically wherever we tell her to. By looking at the other team’s defense we can tell her a spot or position to hit at,” Petty said.
The Lady Bears graduated Kate McDonald who earned all-conference honorable mention honors last year as the Ava libero. She is now playing collegiately for Culver-Stockton. Junior Kaylee Downs is in line to replace McDonald as the libero for Ava.
Junior Sarah Dobbs will orchestrate the offense at setter.
“She is coming in to a more well-defined role this year as a junior. Working with these varsity players, she knows where they like the ball and where to place the ball for them to get a decent hit,” Petty said.
Sophomore Lauren Hall played primarily back row last year as a freshman, but this year will play all six rotations.
Improving communication will be a key to Ava’s success this year.
“All volleyball teams depend on communication and reliance on one another because without everybody working together you will always have a squeaky wheel,” Petty said.
Petty will look for her girls to get around the .500 mark and have a strong conference run in the SCA.
“A successful season for me will be doing well within our conference play because the SCA is so volleyball dominant. All of us are very similar. If we can get a few quality wins through the SCA conference then I will consider it a success,” Petty said. “If we can finish out the season around that .500 mark, that would be all right with me.”
Ava opens the season on Sept. 3 at Catholic.