By Chris Parker
Carl Junction came up one set short of a third consecutive district title last year losing 2-1 to Webb City in the Class 4 District 11 championship match. The Bulldogs finished 18-16 overall last year.
Salma Lewis returns to lead Carl Junction this year. She is a two-time all-state selection. Last year, Lewis broke out with 466 total kills from her spot as an outside hitter. She now has 817 total kills for her career.
“She will once again be a go-to player for us. We will look for her to be a leader and consistency on serve receive,” Carl Junction head coach Cheryl Sharples said. “She is getting close to breaking the 1,000-kill mark. That doesn’t happen often in high school so we are excited for her. She can be a dominant player at every skill.”
Sophomore setter Logan Jones will help Lewis on her quest to 1,000 kills. Jones stepped in as a freshman last year and posted 817 assists on her way to a second-team all-conference honors.
“Logan is a very skilled and confident player, so she didn’t fear stepping into a 5-1 and running our offense,” Sharples said. “(This year) she is physically stronger. Her attack and blocking are much improved.”
Senior Jillian Kennedy (middle hitter) along with juniors Jessa Hylton (outside hitter), Maggie Brown (middle hitter), Olivia Lewis (libero), Abigale Wilson (right side hitter/defensive specialist) and Ellie Lawson (defensive specialist) and sophomore Destiny Buerge (defensive specialist/right side hitter) also return this year.
In all, Carl Junction returns all but six of its 960 kills from last season. Hylton was second on the team with 241 kills as a sophomore. She was also the team’s leader in aces with 55.
Sophomores Jocelyn Brown (defensive specialist) and Chloe Taylor (outside hitter) along with freshman Kylie Scott (middle/right side hitter) are all new players to watch on the varsity level.
“We have depth and experience this season,” Sharples said. “We are looking to have very strong season and be a contender at the end of October.”
Carl Junction opens the season on Aug. 28 at home against Rogers (Ark.).