By Chris Parker
Conway volleyball didn’t have a single senior on the roster last year, but that did not stop the Lady Bears from posting a 14-13-4 record overall. It was Conway’s first time winning 14 matches in a season since 2012, and the Lady Bears’ first winning record since 2011.
“We worked at a higher intensity level. We had a handful of older kids with varsity experience and some freshmen who had seen a lot of success prior to playing varsity,” Conway head coach Tammy Beckler said.
Senior middle blocker Alexa Higbee returns for her fourth season as a starter. She led the Lady Bears in blocks with 19 last season.
“(She has) started since she was a freshman. (She is) showing a lot of maturity coming into her final season,” Beckler said. “After what I describe as a flat year last year, she is back to playing the way I know she can. (She) keeps team positive even in tough times.”
The sophomore trio of Katie Myers, Gibby Beckler and Callie Cornelison also return after stellar freshmen seasons. Myers, a second-team all-district selection, led Conway in kills with 226 and aces at 50. The outside hitter/setter finished runner-up for Conway in blocks (17), digs (208) and assists (209). Beckler, an outside hitter/setter, led the team in assist with 307 while finishing runner-up in kills at 148. Cornelison will key the defense as the libero after accouting for team-highs in digs (366) and serve-receives (398).
Conway also has three more returning seniors in Lakyn Shelton (right side), Abbey Nedom (right side) and Journie Pedersen (defensive specialist).
Breanna Thompson will be back on varsity after sitting out last year due to injury. Senior Shelby Stice will look to make a varsity impact as a defensive specialist after playing six varsity sets last year.
“We have potential to win a district and maybe go further,” Beckler said. “I think we have matured a ton since last year. My hitters are stronger, we have improved our defense and blocking and being so young last year, this team has just grown up a bunch. We can win 20-plus games and fare well at all our tournaments as long as we can stay healthy and injury free. We are at the point where we don’t feel really intimidated by really good teams anymore because we have shown we can compete with them.”
Conway opens the season on Sept. 1 at Mountain Grove.