By Chris Parker
Reeds Spring volleyball has shown steady growth over the past three seasons going from 10 wins to 14 wins to 20 wins and a district title last season.
“We have been so blessed by an amazing group of girls that are highly motivated to get better on and off the court,” Reeds Spring head coach Molly Illum said. “The majority of the girls work as hard in the weight room, club volleyball court, jobs and classroom as they do on the court. That competitiveness has pushed us to see more and more success each year. Strong leadership which doesn’t allow for slacking has helped propel this program as well.”
Bella Fuller returns for her senior season at middle blocker. She earned all-state honors last year after posting 254 serve-receives, 251 digs, 169 kills, 47 assists, 30 aces and 15 blocks as a junior.
“Bella loves volleyball and loves to compete. The combination is fantastic. She never takes a point or rep off and she practices as hard as she plays in a game. She makes the players around her better (and makes them laugh). Opposing coaches comment all the time about how fun she is to watch play, and scary at the same time. She is a special, special girl and player and we are lucky at Reeds Spring to have her,” Illum said. “I just want her to be the best she can be. She’s already so much farther along at this point in the year than she was last year. She is connecting well with her setter, Amarah Porter, and her defense is passionate and solid. As every coach hopes for, I want her to stay healthy and that will be a huge key for her personal success this year.”
Amarah Porter returns at setter for her junior season. She had 579 assists last season. She will be joined by classmates Brynn Hogan (right side) and Jade Watson (middle blocker). Each player saw time in at least 56 sets last season.
Junior Anna Voegele and sophomore Kennedy Brown will be new players to watch on the varsity level at outside hitter.
Missouri will be moving to play a best-of-five format for matches this year, which will present a new set of challenges.
“It’s going to be a tough transition for sure, but every team we play will be in the same transitional period. I’m excited for the change, but we coaches will have our work cut out for us to get the girls conditioned appropriately without overworking them. It will make for longer nights, but hopefully it will spotlight the better team on the court,” Illum said.
The other challenge has been trying to prepare for a season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It sure has been a different off season and summer, but my coaches, myself and the girls are embracing the time we get on the court and making the most of it,” Illum said. “We have early morning practices and the girls are showing up, motivated, and ready to go each and every day. Our participation numbers are great and I can attribute some of that to COVID and the girls being in quarantine. They are ready to be with their friends and competing again.”
Reeds Spring will open the season on Aug. 29 at the Branson Tournament, as they will look to build for a deep postseason run.
“Every year I am careful to put expectations on the girls,” Illum said. “I just want them to push and work every day to be the best player, teammate, person they can be and then we will be ok with the outcome.”