STOVER — Carrie Hewitt’s Stover volleyball team enters the 2015 season with a dozen players on the roster, but that group is showing they are willing to put in the work to more than make up for the low numbers.
“They know that they probably aren’t going to come off the floor just because of that, so they’re going to be in shape and they’re going to do things that they’re not used to doing like ones that normally wouldn’t play front row are going to play front row,” Hewitt said. “They’re embracing that change.”
The Lady Bulldogs focused on defense through most of the first week of practice before working on hitting Friday. Even to open week two, the Stover coaches got up on boxes at the net to hit, allowing players to focus on defense.
“They’re going for it,” Hewitt said. “Balls that they didn’t get to last year they know ‘hey, I’ve got to step up.’ We graduated seven last year so these younger girls are seeing their time to shine and they’re stepping up.”
That senior class from last season included vocal leaders like outside hitter Carley Nolting and setter Montana Boles. Hewitt said the group emerging to lead this team might not be as loud as last year’s seniors, but there is a high level of trust and communication among the 2015 Lady Bulldogs. Hewitt is seeing new leaders step in, like junior Ashley Schroder who is also moving from outside hitter to the middle this season.
“She’s only about 5-4 but she’s got a 25-inch vertical,” Hewitt said. “She’s stepping up and on the back row, she’s leading.”
Junior defensive specialist Lacey Buck and senior middle blocker Mallory Uptegrove will also provide leadership as will Matty Hinck, a junior setter who primarily played junior varsity in 2014.
On the front line, the Lady Bulldogs return Uptegrove, a first-team All-State pick in 2014. Hewitt said Uptegrove is coming into 2015 hitting the ball well and comes in after honing her game in camps at Missouri State and Mizzou.
“Her confidence is through the roof, not that it wasn’t before,” Hewitt said. “She knows this is her final year and she has to be a role model for these other girls. … She’s never been one that the whole game is about her. That’s not the way she is. Mallory is very humble. She is ready to go.”
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles