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2019 Volleyball Season Preview

College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcats volleyball team is eager to take the court for their 2019 season.

The Lady Bobcats are coming off another exceptional season, where they posted a 33-7 record—their third consecutive season of 29 wins or better.Major accomplishments for the season featured an NCCAA Regional Championship and a Runner-Up finish in the 2018 NCCAA DI Women’s Volleyball National Championship.

The Lady Cats return two All-Americans to this season’s lineup—Rielly (Dobbs) Wallace and Haley Stallings. These two ladies both ranked Top Ten in the NAIA last season. Wallace, the team’s leading setter, finished the season as NAIA No. 9 in total assists with 1,383, while also collecting 359 digs and posting 58 blocks. Stallings, in her role as libero, ranked NAIA No. 9 in total digs with 786, adding a team-leading 42 service aces. Fellow team members Kaylee Larimer, Shay (Helsel) Latture, and Maggie Plake round out the senior class. Larimer played in all 40 matches last season, tallying 125 kills, 74 digs, and 64 blocks. Latture took the court in 24 matches, capturing 124 digs and posting a serving percentage of .973. Plake has increased her playing time each season. She played in 63 sets last season, quadrupling her kills and doubling her blocks from the prior year. The large senior class is doing a great job of pouring into the newcomers, encouraging them to buy into the legacy that is College of the Ozarks volleyball.

Juniors Ryley Thixton and Kaylan Smith continue to play key roles for the squad. Thixton played in 37 matches, contributing across the stat line with 270 kills, 29 service aces, 393 digs, and 38 blocks. Smith also aided the Lady Bobcats on the front line in her 31 matches played, posting 65 blocks and 146 kills. Megan Caulfield, a 6’1 middle hitter, and Wendy Smith, a 5’9 outside hitter, return to represent the sophomore class with the goal of earning more playing time.

Seven newcomers were added to the Lady Bobcats 2019 squad. Izzy Gibbany, a 5’3 defensive specialist, comes from a very successful Missouri State University program, having played in numerous matches as a freshman. She hails from Harrison, Ark.,where she was a three-time All-State selection as the team’s starting libero. Gibbany brings a high level of training from MSU and, as a result, has elevated the play of all her team members in the back row. She is expected to be a significant asset to the team this season and in the future. Mattea Reeb, a 5’8 setter, transferred to C of O last year from Pima Community College (Ariz.) and joined the team last spring when an opening arose. She began practicing with the team in February and has made solid improvements along the way. Freshmen members of the team feature: Kiley Counts (Winona) – a hard-working 5’9 outside hitter who is always happy and encouraging; Leatha Keller (Summersville) – a 5’5 defensive specialist who improves daily and can sub any position in the back row; Delanie Gaston (Springdale, Ark.) –a 5’3 defensive specialist with a contagious personality, Delanie comes from a large school and is a compliment to their successful program; Lynnae Grus (Saint Francis Borgia) – a 6’0 middle hitter from a successful program in St. Louis has not yet been able to practice due to an injury, but the team is excited for what she can bring as she heals and the season progresses; and Abi Menzies (Clever) – a 6’1 outside hitter with a great work ethic and attitude, who displays a great deal of potential for the future.

Stacy Muckenthaler will enter her sixth season at the helm of the Ozarks’ team. Last season found Muckenthaler achieving her 100th career-win milestone, bringing her career record to 126-64. Joining her on the sideline will be student assistant coach Morgan Copeland and team manager Emma Miller.

“Our primary goal for the season,” states Muckenthaler, “is to make a strong run in the NCCAA National Championship tournament. However, our underlying goal throughout the season is to relax and enjoy the game. Last year we found this approach to be exceptionally valuable—using the game of volleyball and our enjoyment in it as an outlet from the rigors of work and school. We still work incredibly hard in practice, and we strive to win every game, but overall we want to relax, have fun, and enjoy the game.”

The Lady Bobcats will spend a great deal of their season on the road, but they are scheduled to host four home matches, a tri-match, and the annual Chick-fil-A Tournament.  Check out the online schedule for match dates and times. Make plans to join us at the Keeter Athletic Complex and enjoy the fun, as we cheer on our Lady Bobcats to a fantastic 2019 season!