After winning its first match of the season Thursday, Sept. 1 against Clinton, Smith-Cotton volleyball finished third at the Husker Spikefest in Higginsville over the weekend.
The Lady Tigers went 4-2 in pool play before a loss to Warrensburg in the semi-finals.
With its record at 5-5, head coach Chad Harter said Smith-Cotton volleyball is still searching for an indentity. Smith-Cotton graduated nine seniors from a team that won 22 matches and a Class 4, District 9 tournament.
“We’re still trying to find where we have roles,” Harter said. “We have kids that are very talented in several areas of the game. Tori (Jacobi) is our only returning starter, and we’re relying on her leadership and guidance on the group.”
Jacobi had 33 assists at the Husker Spikefest. Jenna Rapp and Taylor Burlingame had 13 kills and 11 digs, respectively, over the tournament.
Harter said Rapp and Burlingame are underclassmen developing into team leaders. The key to this group’s success, he said, is to establish an identity unique to last year’s team.
“The biggest key is not comparing ourselves to the past,” Harter said. “Defining our identity for who we are today. It’s difficult whenever you’re following a team that had success and trying to match that.
“We’re really trying to develop players so that they can contribute on and off the volleyball court, and we’ll be happy with the wins as they come.”
This is Harter’s first season since 2010 as head coach. He coached junior varsity last season and replaced Darcia Koetting, who retired from the position.
A primary difference in scheme from last season involves defensive transitions in the front line. Harter said the team’s success will follow its development at the net.
“We’re striving to be a very aggressive team at the net,” Harter said. “We’re incorporating some new ideas in offense and defense, and there’s some growing pains, but as it comes along it’s becoming a beautiful game.”
The Lady Tigers travel to St. Pius X on Tuesday, Sept. 6 and host Rock Bridge at 5 p.m. Thursday, at Smith-Cotton High School.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2