Stover Lady Bulldogs volleyball have high hopes of repeating a district championship after swapping Uptegroves in the offseason.
The graduation of all-state selection Mallory Uptegrove precedes the Micah Uptegrove era, who takes over volleyball, track and field, and boys basketball coaching duties on top of a history and health class at Stover after 15 years of not teaching. Carrie Hewett, the coach last season, resigned in spring and took a position elsewhere in the district.
Despite the break, Micah is hardly a stranger to the Stover roster. He coached with the junior high volleyball and track teams last season, and helped coach a club volleyball team featuring some of the Stover roster over the last decade, including seniors Lacy Bucks and Ashley Schroder. He even coached senior Morgan Iman on a 10-and-under team.
“The girls know who I am, and my expectations, coaching style and my temperament,” Micah said.
Stover returns seven seniors from last year’s 18-8-3 team. Schroder, Iman, Bucks, Matty Hinck, Shelby Jackson, Leanna Baker and Kayla Nolting fill out the senior-heavy roster. Sophomore middle hitter Kaylan Black is the lone underclassman in the starting six with less than two weeks until Stover’s first match at Osage, Tuesday, Aug. 23.
Stover’s first-year head coach believes the 2016 season could see an improvement.
“We seem to be stronger in all positions,” Micah said. “Last year’s team, they were younger, and they’re experienced now. I kind of expect big things out of them this year. They’re just going to have to take on bigger roles than they did last year. I think we’ll have a great season.”
Micah said Black, Schroder, Jackson and other seniors with flexible skill sets will contribute with defense in the front row.
“We’ll have a trio of good blockers,” Micah said. “Those three should make it pretty hard for the opposing hitters. And of course we’ve got Morgan Iman. I think Morgan will be getting her share up front.
“That’s the nice things about the team, they’re all pretty close in ability and they can fill several roles. They’re pretty even-Steven across the board with their abilities, which is pretty nice.”
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2