By Chris Parker
Glendale volleyball finished 7-22-2 overall in coach Iceley Stieb’s first season as head coach.
“I think the biggest thing I learned in my first season of coaching is just to have fun with your team and enjoy every minute of the volleyball season,” Stieb said. “It was an extremely busy and hectic season, but I tried to stay very organized to help me go through the season with success.”
She will have to replace her two first-team all-conference selections in the graduated Jayden Sanford and Isabelle Winters.
“We will miss Jayden and Isabelle greatly on and off the court this season,” Stieb said. “They both provided excellent leadership skills, volleyball skills, and their varsity experience helped provide the team with what was needed to be successful.”
Bri Winters will be back at setter and right side hitter for her junior year after leading the Lady Falcons in assists with 214 last year. She also contributed 76 kills, which is the most of any returning player.
“I look for Bri to be an excellent leader on and off the court this season. She will be running our offense and making a huge impact with her hitting skills,” Stieb said. “Bri will provide a great set for our hitters and run an effective offense. Bri will provide us with a strong quality hit and give our team an excellent hitting option. Bri’s varsity setting experience and leadership skills will help add to the team’s success.”
Bella Blackwell (outside hitter/defensive specialist) gives Glendale a second returning all-conference player after being named honorable mention all-conference last season.
“Bella will be a huge strength for our team this year on the defensive and passing end,” Stieb said. “Her defensive and passing skills have improved from last year and she will provide a solid pass for us to run an effective offense. Bella is a very scrappy player and strives to pass every ball.”
Megan Liston brings versatility in her senior season with the ability to hit from most any position.
“Megan will be a strong and experience hitting option for us this year. Megan is well versed in multiple positions and is an offensive threat from anywhere on the court,” Stieb said. “Her leadership skills and energy on the court is a huge strength to the team.”
Seniors Tyler Kieny (outside hitter/defensive specialist) and Aleah Najafi (right side hitter) also return to the varsity lineup.
“Tyler will be a versatile player for us this season. Tyler is a great asset on the back row and when needed she can provide a strong hit on the front row. Tyler’s previous varsity experience will help lead the team this year on and off the court,” Stieb said. “Aleah is a consistent hitter from the right side and provides a variety of options when hitting. Aleah works very hard on the court. She is an extremely coachable player and makes quick adjustments to her hitting to be successful. Aleah will be another great senior leader for our team this season.”
Senior McKenzie Robbins will step up to varsity as a defensive specialist this year.
“McKenzie is an extremely hardworking player that will provide us with some scrappy defense and hustle on the court. McKenzie is an extremely influential player on and off the court and her leadership skills will be a huge quality to the team,” Stieb said.
Juniors Leah McDonald (middle hitter/outside hitter), Nadia Fletcher (setter/defensive specialist), Kiley Hawkins (outside hitter/right side hitter), Halle Hunsaker (outside hitter/right side hitter) and Julia Johns (setter/defensive specialist) give Glendale a strong group of juniors ready to step up to the varsity level.
Sophomores Sofia Blasingim (middle hitter/outside hitter) and Bailey Tittsworth (setter/defensive specialist) will be two underclassmen looking to contribute to the varsity squad.
Glendale’s depth will help the Falcons adjust to Missouri going from a best-of-three set format to best-of-five for matches this year.
“I think this is a great addition to Missouri volleyball. By adding the five-set format to our season, it will help continue to growth and improve the game of volleyball in the state,” Stieb said. “This will continue to provide so many opportunities for our programs and our athletes. The five-set format provides teams and players a way to get extra touches and more rallies, thus playing more volleyball. I also think this is a great way to prepare our players for the college playing level.”
Glendale opens the season on Sept. 1 at Ozark.
“We are still building and creating a solid foundation and program for Glendale Volleyball,” Stieb said. “We love the positive and fun culture that the players and coaches have created and we look forward to being competitive this season. We will fight hard in each game and with our determination we are excited to earn more wins and be successful.”