By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Webb City finished with a 12-14 record last season, falling to Carl Junction in the district semifinals.
Lady Cardinals head coach Lance Robbins, heading into his fifth season with the program, believes the team’s development could serve as a foundation for success this season.
“There were several positive takeaways from the 18-19 season that we look to build upon this season,” Robbins said. “We feel like we were very competitive in all of our games and that our players are ready to take the next step in building our program to the level that we want it.”
A trio of graduated seniors move on in Ali Vanzant, Madeline Hayes and Abby Brownfield.
“All three [seniors] played valuable roles for our team,” Robbins said. “Ali Vanzant was our primary ball handler and floor leader, Madeline Hayes was our leading scorer and Abby Brownfield provided us with scoring and rebounding. All three of those spots will be key for us to fill this year.”
While it won’t be an easy task replacing the lost production, Robbins has high hopes for Webb City’s returning core, which will be led by seniors Kiera and Kajah Jackson.
“Kiera Jackson was an all-district player last season, and we look for her to have a great senior season,” Robbins said. “We hope Kajah Jackson can step in and fill the void Abby Brownfield left.”
Webb City also welcomes back senior Darcy Darnell from injury this season.
“Darcy suffered an ACL injury this summer, but we look for her to be back for the second half of the season,” Robbins said. “We will need her leadership, defensive tenacity and scoring ability.”
Juniors Sierra Kimbrough, Jaydee Duda and Raven Vaughn also return, with Kimbrough expected to be another key component.
“We look for Sierra to be our primary ball handler this year and on floor leader,” Robbins said. “She has had a great off season and could have a breakout year.”
Sophomores Kenzie Robbins, Payton Hawkins and Josie Spikereit round out the team’s returning lettermen.
A healthy roster gives Coach Robbins all the more reason to be optimistic heading into the season.
“We expect to build off of last season and have a successful season this year,” Robbins said. “We have had a few injuries that we will have to overcome, but our team remains positive and looks forward to competing every day.”
While Webb City’s roster is both deep and talented, the Lady Cardinals don’t possess a great deal of size — Spikereit is the team’s tallest player at 5-foot-10.
Speed, on the other hand, is another matter, and Robbins plans to exploit that advantage.
“We are very quick at all five spots on the floor,” Robbins said. “We do not have a lot of size, so we plan to play a faster more aggressive defense to utilize our team speed. Rebounding is a concern for us and is something that we will focus on daily.”
For the Lady Cardinals to be competitive in a tough Central Ozarks Conference, depth over the course of the season remains a primary concern.
“Our biggest X factor heading into the season will be who is going to step up and provide us with some depth off of the bench,” Robbins said. “For us to be successful throughout the season we will need a few younger girls to step in to give us depth.”
Webb City opens its season Dec. 5 with the Carthage Invitational Tournament.