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 later this week at all southwest Missouri Casey’s general stores.
Maddy Bushnell, Willard Senior
Willard has won six consecutive district titles, and Bushnell has been a key player for each of the past three. Bushnell, a 6-foot middle, earned Class 4 All-State honors last season after putting down 299 kills to go with 54 blocks. She is verbally committed to Missouri State University.
Sydney Golden, Nixa Junior
All of Nixa’s offense last year ran through Class 4 All-State honoree Sydney Golden. She accounted for 1,059 assists, while also adding in 20 aces and 255 digs. She is in a strong position to break Nixa’s all-time assists record in just her junior year. She currently has 1,676 career assists with the record being 1,945.
Taylor Golmen, Nixa Senior
Golmen was a force at middle blocker for the state champion Nixa Lady Eagles last year. She had 53 blocks and 263 kills, which earned her first-team all-conference honors in arguably the state’s best volleyball conference. Golmen’s hitting percentage last year was .390.
Salma Lewis, Carl Junction Senior
Lewis, a two-time all-state selection for the Lady Bulldogs, is the area’s top returning hitter. Last year, Lewis had 466 total kills from her spot at outside hitter. She has 817 kills for her career, so the 1,000-kill mark for her career is well within reach this season.
Alli Mitchell, Miller Junior
Miller has all the pieces to make a run to the final four in place led by returning all-state setter Alli Mitchell. Mitchell, who also was the Southwest Conference Player of the Year, accounted for 585 of Miller’s 608 total assists last year. She also had 46 aces.
Maddy Peeples, Webb City Senior
Webb City won the program’s first district title in more than a decade last year and Peeples was a big reason why. She earned all-state honors in Class 4 after putting down 207 kills to go with 37 aces, 171 digs and 228 serve-receives. All those marks were second on the team for Webb City.
Lacy Stokes, Mt. Vernon Senior
Southwest Missouri is a volleyball hotbed, so Stokes being on this list after only starting to play volleyball in the eighth grade speaks a lot to her athleticism. The Class 3 All-State selection coordinates the Mt. Vernon offense at setter, where she distributed 632 assists last year.
Samantha Thompson, Rogersville Junior
Rogersville will have to replace both their legendary coach in Tammy Miller and all-time great player in Birdie Hendrickson this year. Thompson will help bridge that gap, bringing a steady presence at setter. Thompson, a Class 3 All-State selection, had 920 assists, 211 digs, 67 kills and 32 aces last year.
Others to Watch
Riley Arnold, Blue Eye Junior
Kamryn Barnes, Licking Senior
Lauren Faria, Kickapoo Senior
Lauren Forbes, Kickapoo Senior
Bella Fuller, Reeds Spring Senior
Tevi Gurley, El Dorado Springs Junior
Logan Jones, Carl Junction Sophomore
Morgan LeBlanc, Branson Senior
Lexi Miller, Galena Senior
Zoe Reel, Crane Sophomore
Reese Schaaf, El Dorado Springs Junior
Kylie Taylor, Licking Junior
Payton Van Veen, Willard Senior
Kenna Wise, Clever Junior