2022 Fall Preview: Blue Eye Volleyball


By Chris Parker

Blue Eye volleyball will have a new look this year after graduating a seven-player senior class that won three district titles and 84 matches in their four years.

“They were a talented group of girls that left their mark on our program. They were the firsts for a lot for our volleyball program. They will forever have Blue Eye’s first district win. They have multiple tournament wins from seasons gone by. They were also the first team for our school to make it to the quarterfinals,” Blue Eye head coach Taylor Wittl said. “Their record, stats, and accolades are up for everyone to see and remember them by, but what I hope most remember of this group is not just how talented they were, but their efforts they gave towards their talents. Their determination to be the best. Their work ethic to not settle for anything less than greatness. The will to win and compete with anyone and everything thrown their way. The driven mindset and mental toughness it took for them to achieve the things they did. As well as the unity and genuine encouragement of one another is what kept them going. It took everyone playing their role to the best of their ability and being an accountable teammate to achieve their goals. They set that tone. They showed what it takes to be great and they ensured that it would carry on for years to come.”

The graduated group includes Riley Arnold, Avery Arnold, Kyla Warren, Makayla Johnson, Gracyn Fairchild, Miah Norman and Skye Hobbs. The Arnold sisters both earned all-state and first-team all-conference honors last year. Avery was named SWCL Player of the Year. Warren, Johnson and Fairchild all also earned all-conference honors.


This year, Blue Eye returns just three players with varsity experience in seniors Samantha George, Lily Feagans and Emma Bumpus. All three played in 86 or 87 sets last year.

“With them being the only three that have seen varsity playing time, I expect them to lead their team in all aspects, with grace, confidence, and positivity,” Wittl said. “To lead with their experience in the faster paced game, with energy needed to gravitate the momentum to our side, with the uplifting encouragement to unite our team, and to share the love and passion for the game to ensure everyone competes on every ball.”

George earned honorable mention all-conference honors last year on the strength of her 194 kills.

“Samantha George is my most sound fundamental player,” Wittl said. “If we need the ball to get put away, she is our go-to. She has a tough swing, a solid block, and communicates effectively to everyone around her, helping guide them to the best outcome.”

Feagans will see more responsibility in the attack this year.

“Lily provides the energy our team needs,” Wittl said. “She supports and encourages everyone on our court, providing that essential momentum we need. She also has an exceptional attack out of the right side ensuring that we are well equipped along the entire net.”

Bumpus brings a never-quit attitude to the court.

“Emma is my hustle player. She makes those last-ditch effort plays possible and will not stop until the whistle blows,” Wittl said. “She is scrappy, determined, and tough.”


Newcomers to watch include: Emmalee Litel (sophomore), Kieryn Fairchild (junior), Angelina Bettlach (sophomore) and Kayla Johnson (sophomore).

The returners and newcomers will look to overcome inexperience with hustle and constant energy.

“Our biggest strength this year will be positive energy and hustle plays. We will be a very hard-working team, striving to better our skill on each and every rally. We may be small, but we are hungry and will be sure to be mighty. Our lack of “quit” is something that will surprise our opponents,” Wittl said. “We just have to find our groove. We have a brand-new team this year with how many seniors we graduated so building that team chemistry and fluidity of the game early in the season will be vital. The girls have been building their confidence and honing in on their skills all summer which will be beneficial to the unity of the team moving forward.”

Blue Eye will attend a jamboree in Sparta before opening the season on Aug. 30 at Cassville.

“My expectations for this team is to play as a team every single game,” Wittl said. “I expect them to know their role and take pride in their play. They are a team who will be loud, energetic, and intentional with what they do. I genuinely believe that this team could surprise most people with their work ethic, camaraderie, and overall willingness to succeed. They are going to work hard every day and I believe that will show in their play.”

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