Strafford, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- A year ago, the Strafford volleyball program capped its season with a whirlwind run in the district tournament.
The Lady Indians won the Missouri Class 2, District 9 title as coach Adeana Brewer guided the team in the semifinals and finals a week after giving birth. Despite entering the district tournament 15-10-4, Strafford was awarded the No. 6 seed but proved it was up to the task. The Lady Indians knocked off the No. 3 seed in the district opener (Ash Grove), the No. 2 seed in the semifinals (Catholic) and the No. 1 seed (Fair Grove) in the finals.
This year, Brewer is back again and Strafford enters the season with high expectations as they return five of its six starters as well as several other players who contributed at the varsity level.
Strafford lost just one senior starter from last year's 18-11-4 team, outside attacker Ashlee Jackson, who led the team with 170 kills, but otherwise return its entire roster.
"We've made progress and our goal is to get over 20 wins," Brewer said. "Strafford has always had a good volleyball tradition, but we have had to build the past three years ... with everyone returning, we are really excited about the upcoming season."
Emily Oberbeck (5-foot-6, junior) returns at outside hitter after being named an All-Mid-Lakes Conference, all-district and all-region performer as a junior.
"She is our team leader and is looked up to by all our players and is probably the go-to player," Brewer said. "She definitely has the hardest work ethic."
Katelyn Stracke (5-foot-10, senior) returns at middle where Brewer said she was a huge factor in Strafford's district title run and was named first-team all-district.
"I look for great things from her at middle," Brewer said. "She is definitely someone who can put the ball away. She can hit it very hard."
Ashlyn Myers (5-foot-2, senior) returns at setter to run a 5-1 offense and sets up her teammates by putting the ball where it needs to be.
"She is small, but she plays club (volleyball) and plays all year round," Brewer said.
Alex Pyles (5-1, Senior) is a natural vocal leader who returns at libero.
"She is very encouraging and also plays club," Brewer said. "She is very loud and is a key communicator on the floor."
Also returning is Grace Bernskoetter (6-0, Senior) who gives Strafford height and blocking at a middle position.
"Her blocking is her strongest skill," Brewer said. "And she attacks the ball for us as well."
The sixth spot will likely go to junior Hannah Collins (5-foot-5) who played on the right side for Strafford as a sophomore and played all six rotations.
"She played both front row and back row and is a huge factor, she's not tall, but she does her job and makes very few mistakes," Brewer said.
Another junior, Amanda Rowden (5-foot-7) will likely fill a role as an outside hitter this season. Rowden is a left-handed attacker who often throws the defense off.
"She (Rowden) is a real good basketball player as well so she brings a lot of athleticism to the outside," Brewer said. "And she kind of tricks the opposition as well as a left handed attacker."
Outside hitter Emily Oberbeck earned all-region honors last season.
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