Lebanon, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- Despite graduating six seniors from the 2012 team, Lebanon second-year head coach Brittni Allison is looking forward to seeing what a new crop of young players can do at the varsity level.
The Yellowjackets will feature just two seniors — setter Sydney Hough and newcomer Savannah Jackson — and will rely on a host of players stepping into new roles on the varsity this season.
"Right out of the gate we are going to be pretty young," Allison said. "But they are pretty fiesty and competitive, so I'm excited to see them play.
"Jackson will bring a lot of competitiveness to the back row. Hough is one of our few returners and she has already shown great leadership skills. I'm excited to see her play her last season."
Despite the youth and inexperience, Allison said she saw significant strides from the group during a busy summer, perhaps most notably along the front line where she said sophomores Mikalyn Callahan, Maggie Plake and Carrington Peace all shined throughout the summer.
"Going into the summer, I really thought defense was going to be our No. 1 go-to (aspect) and that we might be a little weak on the front row," Allison said. "But as we went through the summer, the front row players have really stepped up and I am super-excited to see them. Our blocking really seems to be on this summer. That was something that was a good surprise.
"We have also been working on our hitting and hitting good spots, not trying to swing through for the kill, but hitting it where the other team is not."
Juniors Ashton Light, Ashley Schaefer, Madison, Payton Hough and Maggie Vaughn, and freshmen Faith Alwardt and Kelsey Winfrey are all in the mix for varsity time.
With as many as 12 players potentially fighting for time on the varsity this season, Allison said it has made for a competitive offseason.
"There are a lot of younger girls coming up and if they are going to work harder and be just as skills, those older girls know they have to fight for their positions, which is what they have been doing all summer," Allison said. "We are going to be young and that is probably going to be our only question mark. But, I want them to have high expectations of themselves. I do feel that sometimes you have to accept some of the younger mistakes from some of the younger players.
"As long as they are fighting through that and not just giving up and have the motivation to keep going, in the next couple of years we could see some really good volleyball."
Allison said the 'Jackets saw success during a busy summer schedule, something that she hopes will translate to the upcoming season. Lebanon will compete in a jamboree on Aug. 24 at Central in Springfield, then will open the season on Aug. 27 at home against Willard.
"We're still competitive and we actually won a lot of games this (summer) and several games that we probably shouldn't have because they were competitive and fought through it," Allison said. "I this year will be a good year for Lebanon."
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