The preseason has been completed for the Smith-Cotton High School volleyball team. The Lady Tigers swept Jefferson City, Marshfield and Camdenton on Tuesday at Camdenton’s scrimmage.
“We have a lot to look forward to if that’s our starting point,” said coach Darcia Koetting.
Smith-Cotton had its C-Team, JV and varsity scrimmage against each other Wednesday. The regular season begins Monday at Jefferson City.
The Lady Tigers came close to claiming a district title last season, but lost 2-1 in the semifinals to eventual district champion Rock Bridge.
“I stayed and watched the championship match and it was tough to watch knowing we could have been the ones on that court,” said senior Abby Knight. “Hopefully we will this year.”
The Lady Tigers will host Rock Bridge on Sept. 8.
“I’m looking forward to facing them this year,” Koetting said. “We have a lot of returners, so we’re ready.”
Last season, six of the eight teams in Smith-Cotton’s district won at least 14 games, including runner-up Helias.
“I think we are really going to have to prepare for Helias,” Koetting said. “We played them in the summer and we split with them, so I know we have some work to get ready for Helias.”
As for the West-Central Conference, Knight said winning that title is also a goal for the 2014 Lady Tigers, who finished behind St. Pius X and O’Hara last season.
“Personally I’d like to see us win conference this year,” she said. “I think that would be really great for us to accomplish.”
St. Pius X beat O’Hara in the the quarterfinals of the Class 3 state tournament last season before losing in the semifinals.
The Lady Tigers’ roster has one senior and is packed with juniors. Here’s a look at how the 2014 rotation is expected to shape up:
Knight is the lone senior and will return as a starting middle hitter.
“Abby is just one of our best all around players,” Koetting said. “She’s our main blocker, our main hitter in the middle. Abby is a great serve-receiver. She has an awesome serve and she’s just a strong player everywhere I put her on the court.”
Juniors Montana Hedrick, Darby Simon, Emilee Edgar and Jamika Yount are all expected to rotate into the hitter position as well. Hedrick and Simon got the most experience of the group last season.
“Darby does a great job as an outside hitter,” Koetting said. “Darby sees the court well and she does well with hitting, tipping. Wherever we need to go with the ball she sees the court well and finds the hole.”
The two main setters expected to get playing time are junior Courtney Koetting and sophomore Tori Jacobi. Courtney has played this spot on varsity for two years.
“She goes above and beyond as far as working in the offseason to prepare,” coach Koetting said. “We are running some very complex plays this year because we have someone like her caliber at this level.”
Coach Koetting said she’d also like to use Courtney as a hitter at times, so Jacobi will provide depth at the setter position.
“She is going to see a lot of court time,” coach Koetting said. “She’s a left handed setter, which is a real asset to have. Tori is a good athlete and a good smart player.”
Coach Koetting also said freshman Annabelle Lorenz could see some time as a setter on varsity.
Junior Brittany Borke will return to her back row spot this season.
“She’s just a really strong player,” Koetting said. “She’s improved her serve-receive and I look for good things from Brittany.”
Junior Miranda Gunn was expected to be slotted into the back row, but a fractured arm on the first day of practice will keep her out for some time.
“If she comes back she’ll be a defender,” coach Koetting said.
Junior Fernanda Alexander comes over from the JV squad to be a libero on varsity.
“She’s a great serve-receiver and gets the ball up so we can run our offense,” coach Koetting said.
The Lady Tigers already have their fair share of injuries before the regular season starts. Beyond Gunn’s injury, coach Koetting said Yount has been struggling with a shoulder injury.
Junior Bailey Curry will not be available this season because of a torn ACL.
“We have a lot of people that can fill in,” coach Koetting said. “We’ve worked with a couple different rotations knowing we’ve gone through some injuries. With all the experience of juniors, they are going to be fine this year even with injuries.”