The College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcats volleyball team is eager to take the court for the 2016 season. Under the leadership of third-year head coach Stacy Edwards, the Bobcats will seek to reach their goal of qualifying for the National Tournament by winning the A.I.I. Conference, while providing fans and opponents with quality play and competitive matches.
The Lady Bobcats will look quite different this fall with a 16-player roster that includes nine newcomers—eight incoming freshmen and one sophomore transfer. When asked about this year’s team, Coach Edwards commented, “Some may question the wisdom of bringing in so many recruits, especially at the freshman level, but I am excited to see this season unfold, as our new players bring a great deal of energy and excitement to the team. They are a very determined group. Team members are meshing well both on and off the court, and they are all passionate about wearing the ‘Ozarks’ uniform, being proud to play at College of the Ozarks.”
Seasoned returners feature seniors Logan Allen, Sarah Kreul, Brandy Glessner, and Chloe’ Shepherd. Juniors Danielle Curnes and Hannah Bracker, alongside sophomore Halle Huffman round off the returners. Each of these players made significant contributions last season, with all upperclassmen ranking in the top 5 in multiple stat categories. Curnes led the team in kills (341) and was second in digs (491), while Kreul was second in assists (586) and service aces (41). According to Coach Edwards, her returning players are stepping up to take ownership of their responsibilities as team leaders.
The Cats will be looking for several of their players to fill some gaps left by graduates Lindsay Boone and Jamie Reaves Myers, as well as junior A.I.I. Libero of the Year Brandi Stahl, who transferred last spring. Boone and Reaves were a duo to be reckoned with in the front line. Reaves, named 2015-16 NAIA All-American Honorable Mention and ranked #13 nationally in total blocks, closed out her collegiate career with 1,292 kills and 495 total blocks. Boone was named 2nd team All-Conference last season and posted 291 kills, 2,331 assists and 209 blocks during her career. Stahl, who also garnered a 2015-16 1st team All-Conference award, ranked #14 nationally in total digs with 735.
As Edwards develops her team this season, she is very optimistic. “We anticipate being ‘overlooked’ this season due to our 18-19 record in 2015 and the large influx of new players,” said Edwards. “From freshmen to seniors, our players feel they have a lot to prove. We will certainly face challenges, but I am optimistic we will see considerable growth throughout the season, as we have so much potential combined with determination. A large number of our players come from very successful programs and know what it takes to win.”
The Lady Bobcats 2016 team will feature:
- Logan Allen, 5-11 senior from Belton, 2015 team top 5: 263 kills, 72 blocks;
- Kaylee Larimer, 5-10 freshman from Strafford, 1st Team All-State and Academic All-State;
- Makensi Taylor, 5-11 freshman from Ozark, Academic All-State (also plays right side);
- Maggie Plake, 5-11 freshman from Lebanon, 2nd Team All-Conference, Academic All-State;
- Danielle Curnes, 5-10 junior from Branson West, 2015 team top 5: 341 kills, 32 aces, 491 digs, 41 blocks;
- Hannah Bracker, 5-11 junior from Nixa (also plays right side);
- Chloe’ Shepherd, 5-9 senior from Carthage, 2015 team top 5: 246 kills, 23 aces, 366 digs, 31 blocks;
- Halle Huffman, 5-9 sophomore from Poplar Bluff;
- Morgan Copeland, 5-9 freshman from Nixa (also defensive specialist), Academic All-State;
- Alex Spears, 5-9 sophomore from Perryville, 2nd team All-State, Academic All-State, transferred from Mineral Area College;
- Kara Gibbons, 5-5 freshman from Nixa, Academic All-State;
- Haley Stallings, 5-5 freshman from Fair Grove, 1st team All-State, Academic All-State;
- Shay Helsel, 5-3 freshman from Branson, All-Tri-Lakes Team, Academic All-State;
- Brandy Glessner, 5-9 senior from Republic, 2015 team top 5: 141 kills, 31 blocks;
- Sarah Kreul, 5-8 senior from Republic, 2015 team top 5: 586 assists, 41 aces, 293 digs;
- Rielly Dobbs, 5-9 freshman from Nixa, 2nd team All-State, Academic All-State.
This season the Lady Bobcats also welcome assistant coach Erin Blake, who was a member of the Southwest Baptist University volleyball team. Blake graduated from SBU in 2010 with a degree in Athletic Training and a minor in Psychology. She recently completed the Kanakuk Institute and is serving at College of the Ozarks as a full-time resident director of Ashcroft Hall and a sponsor for the Student’s Union.
Additional goals the Cats seek to achieve this season include winning the team GPA award, representing the College well, and celebrating the moment, those around them, and the little things.
Thirteen matches will be hosted in the Keeter Athletic Complex, beginning with a 5-set scrimmage on August 23rd against Southwest Baptist University, followed by a tri-match on August 30th which will serve as the Lady Bobcats’ official home opener.
Admission to home games is free, so come out and support your College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcats.