Russell, Hammerbacher named to All-MIAA volleyball team

Sophomore Ashlee Russell watches as senior Sarah Joles goes for a dig during Southerns game against Southwest Baptist.

Sophomore Ashlee Russell watches as senior Sarah Joles goes for a dig during Southern’s game against Southwest Baptist.

Kim DeRaedt

After a convincing win against Southwest Baptist, the Missouri Southern volleyball team placed two on the All-MIAA team.

Sophomore Ashlee Russell was named to the team for the first time, while junior Kari Hammerbacher was selected for the second season in a row.

The Lions’ volleyball team concluded its 2008 campaign in style as it rallied to defeat SBU in five sets.

After clinching the first two sets, the team saw its lead slip as the Bearcats knotted things up at two sets a piece. However, the seniors weren’t about to surrender their final match that easily.

Down 12-8 in the final set, the Lions stuck it out behind the steady effort of junior Stefanie Williams who secured the victory by serving the final four points.

It was the last time that four Lion seniors will take to the court, although each has etched her legacy in Southern volleyball forever. Sarah Joles, Ashley Hill, Cherie Baugh and Katie Gage compose the graduating class that nearly eclipsed the 60-win career mark.

Sarah Joles and Ashley Hill each rewrote Southern’s record book this season as Joles sits at second place all-time with 4,219 career assists.

Joles also claimed the seventh slot all-time with 157 career service aces and maintains ownership for most assists in a game which she achieved last season.

Hill found her way to a ninth place ranking for career digs with 1,185. Cherie Baugh contributed nearly 650 kills during her time at Southern and registered minutes in all 130 games during her sophomore outing.

Katie Gage racked up 114 digs on the defensive side for the Lions. Freshman Amber Heiskell will remember the blend of talent and charisma that the seniors brought to the team.

“Ashley Hill was an amazing leader,” Heiskell said. “Joles always kept us going. Katie Gage was a constant source for advice, and Cherie Baugh was always keeping us laughing.”

While Heiskell said that she is disappointed with how the season turned out, she cannot be more proud of the effort her teammates put forth.

The Lions concluded the year at the 10-22 mark with a 5-15 conference showing.

Despite the subpar record, the team faced a strong schedule and proved capable of holding its own against ranked opponents. The squad twice shot down Missouri Western and notched conference wins over Fort Hays and SBU.

They sought revenge for a 3-0 loss to Northwest Missouri earlier in the season by defending their home court and emerging 3-0 victors when the teams squared off for the second time.

Still, with 11 returners the Lions remain optimistic about their chances for next season.

Three freshmen, five sophomores, and three juniors will hit the court in 2009 another year older, and another year smarter. They hope the win over SBU is a sign of good things to come.

“We ended our season with a winning match,” Heiskell said. “We want to take that into next year. I’m excited to get started. It should be a very good season.”