Young volleyball squad set to open season


Willie Brown, Director of Photography

Trish Knight, Lion head volleyball coach, helps her blockers improve their game at practice Tuesday, August 28th.

After finishing last season with a 5-24 record, the Lion volleyball team is starting over.

The Lions finished No. 10 a season ago in confernece play under first-year Head Coach Trish Knight.

This year’s team returns three starters and four letter-winners from a season ago.

When the MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll was announced Aug. 8, the Lions finished last in voting, coming in at No. 13.

The players and coaches are using that as their motivation.

 “These groups of kids, they don’t like being dead last,” Knight said. “They have a good attitude about everything, but most importantly, they work extremely hard.”

Southern volleyball signed nine new ladies for 2012 season.

The list of newcomers includes three junior college and four-year college transfers as well as six high school student-athletes.

Another addition to the team is Rachel Rees, who will be the new assistant coach.

Rees replaces Austin Warren, who left to take a head coaching position at Camdenton High School.

“I am very excited to have Rachel join our staff,” Knight said.  “I’ve known her forever, since she was a baby. You never think you’ll be coaching long enough to have kids that are as young as she is, to come in and be your assistant coach. When you get an assistant, you want someone who knows your system and has loyalty.”

A 2008 graduate of Evangel University in Springfield, Rees was a four-year starter in college at setter, playing her freshman season at William Woods before transferring to Evangel.

This season, the coaching staff is focused on establishing the program and winning.

Despite the team’s youth, coaches feel this will be a good year for them regardless of the challenges.

“Once we get them all healthy and on the court, we will be pretty good,” Knight said. “It will take awhile to gel as a team because we are starting quite a few freshman.”

 In the rotation for this weekend games are freshmen Callie Whetstone, Payton Graves and Abby Finder; sophomores Danielle Severns and Katie Politte; juniors Sydney Potts and Nai Montano; and senior Shakila Balkhi.

The Lions open up the season tonight and tomorrow at Pittsburg State.