Lions prepare for Pittsburg Invite

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Kurt Montgomery/The Chart

Interim Head Coach Rachel Kirkman listens to give coaching feedback to sophomore setter Abby Finder during practice this week.

Nick Burnham, Staff Writer

The 2013 fall season will be starting for the Missouri Southern Lions volleyball team at the Pittsburg State Invitational tournament today at 9:30 a.m. The Lions will be competing against Quincy, Ouachita Baptist, Southeast Oklahoma, and Rockhurst this weekend.

After going 0 for 30 last season, the Lions are, “focused on getting a fresh start this season and showing everyone how hard we’ve been working,” said junior libero Dani Severns.

Rachel Kirkman spent the 2012 season as the Lions volleyball assistant coach, under Head Coach Trish Knight, but after ending a tough season, the Lions have made a few changes in their coaching staff.  

Kirkman will be starting off the 2013 season as interim head coach of the Lions volleyball team. Evangel University, located in Springfield, is where Kirkman gained her collegiate experience as their setter after transferring from William Woods University in Fulton, Mo.

During her time at Evangel, Kirkman was a three-time Academic All-American. After graduating from Evangel in 2008, Kirkman spent one season as the volleyball coach at Raymondville Middle School, then served as the varsity coach at Eldon High School.  She is married to Dustin Kirkman and has a four-year-old son named Daxon.

She used her setting knowledge and expertise to help last year’s setter, Abby Finder, become one of the best setter’s in the MIAA.

“I think our new coach is awesome. She is doing a great job preparing us for the season. Coach is really good at pushing our limits while being encouraging,” said Finder.

Shea Brgoch is a new face on the sidelines this season taking Kirkman’s old job as assistant coach. This will be Brgoch’s first year coaching a collegiate team and she is excited to apply her knowledge of volleyball to make this year a winning season.

“I love having Coach Kirkman with us, and Coach Shea, the new assistant coach, is a great addition for us,” said Severns.

The Lions not only have new additions on the coaching staff but also on the court.

“All of our new faces have a good shot at a spot on the court this season,” said Severns, “along with some great new hitters to keep an eye out for. Including Erin Rice of course, she’s a beast out there.”

Four of those five new faces on the team have never played in a Southern uniform, with the exception of Rice.

As a three-time All-MIAA player, Rice ended her four-year career with Southern’s women’s basketball team last year. Although this is Rice’s first year playing volleyball at Southern, she is no stranger to the sport.

After starting three years of high school volleyball, being a two-time all-state and all-district pick, as well as helping her high school team to district championships three years in a row, Rice should be a great addition to the team.

“I am very excited for this season for several reasons,” Rice said. “First of all this team has so many weapons and talented players. We have a lot to prove not only to the fans and league but ourselves also. We know we have the potential, we just need to show it out on the court.”

With new coaches and new players the Lions seem to have a new mindset and look to improve as they start their season playing opponents from other conferences in Pittsburg, Kan.