By Chris Parker
There are many talented volleyball players across our coverage area. Below are some of the volleyball players to watch this season.
NOTE: The athletes are listed in alphabetical order.
Riley Arnold, Blue Eye Senior
Arnold is one of the area’s most decorated athletes. She is a multi-time state champion in cross country and on the track. She is also an all-state selection on the volleyball and basketball courts. Last year, Arnold led Blue Eye in kills (335), aces (45), digs (316) and serve receptions (461).
Gibby Beckler, Conway Junior
Beckler contributed across the board in her sophomore season posting team-highs in kills (240) and assists (281) while finishing second on the team in aces (38), blocks (20) and digs (271). She earned Class 2 All-State honors for her efforts.
Arden Below, Central Senior
Below was named first-team all-conference last year after she led the Lady Bulldogs in kills (123) and finished second on the team in aces (21), blocks (15), digs (139) and assists (164). She will play setter and opposite.
Hallie Cook, Catholic Senior
Cook is a senior co-captain of a Catholic volleyball team looking to go back to the final four. She earned all-state honors last year after putting down 296 kills. She is also gifted serving the ball with 93 aces last year. The senior also contributed 337 digs.
Jaycee Fixsen, Nixa Senior
Fixsen is one of the area’s top hitters returning after she put down 438 kills last year, which was 4.1 kills per set. She has 788 kills total in her career so far. The senior was an all-state and first-team all-conference selection as a junior. More than just a hitter, Fixsen led Nixa in aces (41), digs (399) and serve receptions (573).
Paige Gayer, Willard Senior
Gayer made her debut as a varsity starter last year and did not disappoint. She orchestrated the Willard attack from her setter position with 1,038 assists, 223 digs, 55 kills, 35 aces and 28 blocks. Her leadership from that position will be even more important this year after the Lady Tigers graduated their top two hitters from last season’s state championship team.
Sydney Golden, Nixa Senior
Golden is on pace to finish her career as the state’s most productive setter. Ever. She set the single-season assist record last year with 1,163. The senior also owns the top THREE single-match assist totals. She will make a run at the all-time record for assists in a career, as she currently stands No. 4 all-time with 884 assists needed to break the record. Golden will play for the University of Northern Iowa next year.
Tevi Gurley, El Dorado Springs Senior
Gurley is a versatile weapon for an El Dorado Springs volleyball team looking for a trip to the final four after three consecutive 28-win seasons. She had 332 kills, 66 aces, 303 digs and 516 assists on her way to Class 3 All-State honors last year.
Claudia Hadlock, Miller Senior
Hadlock has committed to Cottey College to play basketball, but she is also a star on the volleyball court. The Class 2 All-State selection had 402 digs and 125 kills last season for the 32-win Lady Cardinals that earned a trip to the final four.
Kaylee Helton, Miller Senior
Helton is the offensive leader for the Lady Cardinals, as she returns after putting down 326 kills as a junior. She currently has 600 kills for her career. The senior is also a factor defensively where she contributed 307 digs on her way to Class 2 All-State honors.
Alexis Hunter, Cabool Senior
Cabool came up one set short of a final four last year, and Hunter was a big reason why. She led the Bulldogs in blocks (58) and digs (316) while also finishing with 230 kills. Hunter is a six-rotation middle who can attack from anywhere in her senior season. She was a Class 2 All-State selection in 2020.
Jessa Hylton, Carl Junction Senior
Hylton enters her fourth year as a starter. The senior outside hitter totaled 312 kills and 48 aces on her way to Class 4 All-State and second-team all-conference honors last year.
Logan Jones, Carl Junction Junior
Jones is one of the nation’s top setters. The Under Armour All-American handed out a school-record 914 assists last year including a single-game record 53 in the playoffs against Willard. She was a Class 4 All-State and first-team all-conference selection. Jones has committed to the University of Arkansas.
Ashton Judd, West Plains Senior
Judd, a basketball star in the winter, had a big junior season with 254 digs, 31 aces, 114 kills, and 429 assists on her way to first-team all-district and all-conference selections. Her hitting will expand this year, as West Plains moves from a 5-1 to a 6-2.
Summer Kenney, Stockton Junior
Kenney will lead Stockton into the Southwest Conference and immediately become one of the top hitters in the conference. She put down 349 kills last season on her way to Mid-Lakes First-Team All-Conference honors. She also added in a team-high 410 digs. Kenney has 586 kills through her first two high school seasons.
Payton Kincaid, Camdenton Senior
Camdenton won its first district title since 2008 last year, and Kincaid was a big reason why. Kincaid led the Lady Lakers with 308 kills on her way to Class 4 All-State and First-Team All-Ozark Conference honors. She will be a six-rotation player for Camdenton this year.
Jena Medaris, Nixa Senior
Medaris is a key at the net for Nixa as a middle blocker. She was second on the team with 28 blocks last year while she added 145 kills. The senior showed a lot of growth in her junior season and will be expected for more offensive contributions this year.
Alli Mitchell, Miller Senior
Miller has found a lot of success on the volleyball court the past three years with 86 wins, two district titles and a final four appearance, and Mitchell is a big reason why. The two-time all-state setter had 888 assists last year and had 2,134 for her career. She is the reigning Southwest Conference Player of the Year.
Grace O’Reilly, Catholic Junior
O’Reilly earned Class 3 All-State and second-team all-conference honors last year. She led the Lady Irish in kills with 359 while finishing second in both blocks (42) and aces (66). The junior is a six-rotation player for Catholic.
Solai Pham, Mt. Vernon Senior
Pham was a Class 3 All-State selection at defensive specialist for the district champion Mountaineers last year. She led the team in serve receptions with 533 with just 26 reception errors. The senior was second on the team in digs with 369.
Jessica Pritchett, Rolla Junior
Pritchett is a versatile weapon for Rolla. She was named First-Team All-Ozark Conference after she led the team in assists with 425 and kills with 117. The junior was second in digs with 174 and third in aces with 29.
Cherie Sabini, Catholic Senior
Sabini is a force at the net for Catholic who will play middle and left back on defense. She led the Lady Irish in blocks with 61. The senior co-captain also had 306 kills and 58 aces in her junior season. She was an all-state selection last year.
Natalie Scott, Rogersville Junior
Scott is a key leader on defense for Rogersville. The libero/defensive specialist led Rogersville in aces (33), digs (343) and serve receptions (356). She also is a vocal leader for the Wildcats who has a great tempo on her passing.
Reese Schaaf, El Dorado Springs Senior
Schaaf will be looking to help lead a loaded El Dorado Springs volleyball team to a final four coming off an all-state season. She had 320 kills, 29 aces, 293 digs and 440 assists last year. All but the aces were second on the team in 2020.
Sharayah Seymour, Cassville Senior
Seymour is a six-rotation hitter for the Wildcats. She led the team with 205 kills last year on her way to an all-state selection. She will be a team leader for Cassville this year who has a great IQ on the volleyball court.
Kindall Smithson, Willard Senior
Longtime Willard head coach Jamalee Hancock called Smithson “one of the best defensive players I have ever coached”. Smithson, a Class 4 All-State selection last year, had 384 digs to lead Willard last year. She also contributed 32 aces and 14 assists.
Kyleigh Talbott, Lamar Senior
Talbott is the reigning Big 8 West Conference Player of the Year. She will play all over the court in her senior season. She is the unquestioned leader for Lamar, as her natural athleticism and competitive edge make her a force on the volleyball court.
Hanna Vorhies, Ozark Senior
Vorhies returns to Ozark after leading the program in kills with 259. She also contributed 41 blocks. The senior is Ozark’s go-to attacker and will play a six-rotation role this year to keep her attacking ability on the court in the back row.
Kylie Wenger, Clever Senior
Wenger is Clever’s top threat at the net after she put down a team-high 274 kills and had 24 blocks last year. Her presence at the net helps take pressure off the defense. She earned Class 2 All-State honors last season.
Kenna Wise, Clever Senior
Wise is a two-time all-state selection and an Academic All-American selection. The senior led Clever in assists (345), digs (431) and aces (43) while finishing runner-up in kills with 188 last year.