Posted: Thursday, 15 August 2013 1:33PM

Willard volleyball counting on last year's JV to step up

Willard, Mo. (For  -- Willard Lady Tigers head  volleyball coach Jamalee Hancock is drawing on talent from last year’s junior varsity squad to build a solid varsity team. The Willard Lady Tigers lost five seniors, including standout four-year starter Tessa Thornton.

“Some parts of the team are stronger than last year, some we are working on. They are all very coachable,” said Hancock.

The Lady Tigers posted an impressive record of 27-6-2 in 2012, with a loss to Jefferson City in the Class 4, District 10 championship.

Returning starters include Paige Owings (sr.), middle hitter. Owings is known for her outside blocking.

Also returning is Jenna Robinson (sr.), whom Hancock describes as a good all-around player who keeps the ball in play. Makayla Sanford (sr.) returns as libero.

Hancock offered high praise for the Lady Tigers seniors.

“My seniors are awesome. They have a great work ethic and are top notch seniors,” said Hancock.

Returning starter Mariah Stewart (jr.), the only leftie on team, will be the Lady Tigers’ go-to hitter along with Owings. Stewart was recovering from foot surgery in the spring and summer and only recently was cleared to jump.

The remainder of the starting lineup comes primarily from last year’s junior varsity squad.

“Losing five seniors means a longer merging of JV and varsity than normal. They’ve adapted well. It is nice to get sophomores on varsity, because you know they’ll be playing longer,” said Hancock.

The tentative varsity lineup will include McKenzie Hunt (jr.) and Makenzie Bouse (so.) as setters, Kate Bushnell (so.), Madi Page (so.), Makenzie Parker (jr.), and Jasmine Berry (jr.).

Thornton, who graduated in 2013, signed with Middle Valley College after earning first team All-Central Ozark Conference, All-District, second-team All-Region, and honorable mention All-State honors.

Willard’s season opener will be August 30 at Lebanon.

Photo Galleries

Pictures: Glendale 1, Nixa 0

Glendale's keeper Kinda Lierz scored the only goal to lift the Lady Falcons over Nixa.

Pictures: Mount Vernon 21, Aurora 2

Mount Vernon improves to 4-0 in conference play

Pictures: Neosho vs. Ozark

The Wildcats and Tigers met in Ozark on Thursday
O-Zone Opinion
10 improved and surprise spring sports teams
In honor of giving spring its fair due, we take time out like we did in basketball season to highlight the spring's most improved/surprise/overachieving/under-the-radar/whatever-you-wanna-call-it teams. As a general rule, this list won't include...
Read More
Mohawk Chronicles: Breaking down the new boys basketball districts
It's that time again… Every two years MSHSAA reshuffles classes and districts, unintentionally and yet effectively changing the landscape of the sport and this spring was no different. Here are the changes you will want to note for the boys...
Read More
Making sense of the new girls basketball districts
Who do you have going all the way in your bracket? Your 2014-15 high school district basketball bracket, that is. Last weekend, MSHSAA released classification and district assignments for the next two school years. We saw notable changes in most...
Read More
Most Viewed