By Chris Parker
There are many talented volleyball players across our coverage area that features more than 75 teams. Below are some of the top volleyball players to watch this season
This watchlist can be found in print in the Fall O-Zone Preview Magazine available this week at all southwest Missouri Casey’s general stores.
Jordan Collard, Nixa, Senior
Collard brings a strong presence to the net for Nixa. The senior does a great job transitioning from defense to offense and making herself available as a middle hitter, according to her coach. She finished third for Nixa in kills last year with 175. She led the Lady Eagles in blocks (31), was second in serve-receives (222) and third in digs (207).
Birdie Hendrickson, Rogersville, Senior
If you are an area volleyball fan and don’t know who Birdie Hendrickson is, then you haven’t been paying attention. Hendrickson is the reigning Gatorade Player of the Year after helping lead the Lady Wildcats to the Class 3 state title last year. There is nothing the Florida commit can’t do on the volleyball court as evidenced by her 393 kills, 359 digs, 381 serve-receives, 43 assists, 31 aces and 19 blocks last year. The kills, digs, serve-receives and blocks led the team.
Kenzie Hines, Nixa, Senior
Hines brings great court awareness to the Lady Eagles’ attack. According to her coach, her strength is her ability to recognize what opposing defenses are trying to take away and make the adjustment to get the kill. She was second on the team in kills last year with 182. Hines led the team in aces (29), was second in digs (225) and third in serve-receives (194).
Tayte Kozlowski, Kickapoo, Senior
Kozlowski is one of the area’s top athletes. She was a Class 4 All-State selection last fall as a junior. She is a versatile weapon who led the Lady Chiefs in both kills (262) and assists (259) as a junior. In the spring, Kozlowski earned Class 5 all-state track and field honors in both horizontal jumps. She is committed to play volleyball for Drury after graduation.
Salma Lewis, Carl Junction, Junior
Lewis will be the star for Carl Junction this year. She earned all-state honors in Class 4 as a sophomore last year after she led the Lady Bulldogs in digs (241) while finishing second in kills (241) and serve-receives (309). This year, she will be a six-rotation outside hitter. The Lady Bulldogs also will look to her as a primary passer.
Claire Taylor, Rogersville, Senior
Taylor had to sit out her sophomore season due to injury, but made up for lost time last season. She put down 243 kills for the state champion Lady Tigers on her way to an all-state selection in Class 3. Taylor is committed to Drury where she will be a setter, but will play where coach Tammy Miller needs her this year, which will primarily be hitting.
Emily Terry, Willard, Senior
Terry has the distinction of being a four-year varsity starter for a quality Willard program. Last year, Terry had 191 kills, while also bringing a quality serve to the court that allowed her to accrue a team-high 46 aces. She will be a six-rotation right side hitter. The senior also will be a primary passer for Willard.
Ashton Wildermuth, Willard, Senior
Willard has some of the area’s deepest hitting corps. Ashton Wildermuth is tasked with orchestrating that attack. She tallied 905 assists last year on her way to being name Class 4 All-State. Wildermuth’s biggest asset is her ability to get a clean set on location no matter where the pass leads her to on the court.
Others to Watch
Emily Aldridge, Marshfield, Senior
Alexa Boyle, Carthage, Senior
Maddy Bushnell, Willard, Junior
Mica Chadwell, Strafford, Senior
Kaitlyn Creek, Stockton, Senior
Lauren Forbes, Kickapoo, Junior
Lexie Gregory, Nixa, Senior
Bailey Groves, Billings, Senior
Ashley Lasher, Willard, Senior
Payton Van Veen, Willard, Junior