The College of the Ozarks Volleyball team will host Drury University in the Lady Bobcats' 2014 season home-opener on Tuesday, September 4th, at 7 PM in the Keeter Athletic Complex. The Lady Bobcats enter the 2014 season with high hopes for success. Under the leadership of first-year Head Coach Stacy Watkins, the Lady ‘Cats will strive to continue their strong play in the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference following a 10-1 (23-15 overall) record in 2013.
Although the Bobcats graduated five seniors this past year, they have eight returning players who were significant contributors to the success of the 2013 team-- four of whom played more than 100 sets last season. Bringing their experience back to the court are Seniors Hannah Brown, Kayley Walker, and Jenny Wuerffel (pictured), Juniors Lindsay Boone and Jamie Reaves, and Sophomores Sarah Kreul, Chloe’ Shepherd, and Brandi Stahl.
On the offensive side, Kreul and Boone led the Bobcats in assists last year and are expected to provide continued strength and leadership this season. Their solid setting skills will provide the team with needed kill opportunities. Reaves'’s attacking abilities make her an excellent offensive presence, and Wuerffel is an extremely powerful, go-to hitter. Brown and Kreul bring serving accuracy to the team, having provided 57 service aces last season and planning to post bigger numbers this year. Defensively, Stahl is stepping into a new position as the team’s libero, filling the big shoes left by 2013 conference leader Hayley Blair. Coach Watkins is very pleased with the great transition Stahl has made to her new role and looks forward to her growing confidence as the season progresses. Along with her offensive skills, Reaves also possesses great blocking ability, having led the conference in blocks per game last year. Shepherd brings improved offense and defense to her outside hitter position thanks to her hard work ethic and increased speed. Walker, who moved from middle to right side this preseason has a good block and the unique ability to make everyone a better player when she is on the court. Coach Watkins believes the Lady Cats will be strong defensively in both the back and front rows.
A solid group of newcomers join the Lady Bobcats in 2014. Logan Allen (So, 5-11, MH, Longview Community College transfer), Katie Griffin (Fr, 5-10, OH, West Fork HS, Ark.), Hannah Bracker (Fr, 5-11, OH/RS, Nixa HS), Hannah Gilpin (Fr, 5-9, OH, Buffalo HS), Ashlynn Rogers (Fr, 5-5, DS, Mt. Grove HS), and Kylie Acklin (Fr, 5-9, OH, Liberty-Mt. View-Birchtree HS) all bring energy, excitement, and solid play at the high school level to this year’s team, and each looks to find their niche’ in contributing to the team’s success.
The “Big Picture" is Coach Watkins’ focus for this year’s team. The Lady Bobcats will strive to seek the best for the team as a whole, not letting the small things discourage or distract them, focusing on being a support system for one another, and playing with dignity—win or lose. Coach Watkins, who served as the Lady Bobcats’ assistant coach for four years and was an All-Conference, All-American player for the Bobcats in 2007 and 2008, knows well the value of hard work. Watkins commended her team for their hard work over the off-season, as they reported to camp in great condition, prepared for difficult workouts. Coach Watkins anticipates the Lady Cats, being a relatively young team, will improve with each competition as they build comradery, hone their skills, and gain confidence—all leading up to exceptional conference play for the 2014 season.