By Chris Parker
Lebanon volleyball had one of the best seasons in program history last year winning 26 matches and the program’s first district title since 2005. The successful season was led by five seniors in Myah Hough, Jocee Pettyjohn, Karagan Bean, Destiny Zimdars and Chloe Shivers.
“Earning a district title was the big goal that the group of seniors had set their sights on early on in the program. The heartbreaking loss in the district championship as juniors the 2020 season before, really just fueled them to stay committed to the process and driven to meet their goal,” Lebanon head volleyball coach Jenny Collins said. “They continued to put in the work and competed wholeheartedly every time they stepped on the floor. They were determined not to leave the floor feeling the heartbreak at the end of their senior season and let nothing stand in their way in capturing a district championship.”
Pettyjohn earned all-state honors in Class 5. Hough and Shivers were both all-conference selections.
Addy Rebmann returns for her sophomore season after earning First-Team All-Ozark Conference honors as a freshman. She put down 410 kills in her first season of high school volleyball.
“Addy will continue to be an offensive threat for our team, but during the offseason she has really put a focus on her back row play and serve receive. Addy was a six-rotation player for us last season but several teams who scouted us really well put a lot of pressure on her out of serve receive to try and take her out of her offensive efficiency. There were several teams who were successful and Addy didn’t like it. During the off-season, Addy has developed a solid passing platform and a wider range defensively. She now welcomes receiving the serve and pass-to-attack option,” Collins said.
Rebmann will shoulder even more of the load this year after the Yellowjackets graduated their next four leading players in kills.
“We are already seeing teams key in on her this summer during some of our league play,” Collins said. “Addy continues to develop tools for her toolbox offensively as she is capable of swinging around a block, over the top and throwing in the off speed. While most of our offense is young in experience at the varsity level we are still working on them to be contributors and working to help take pressure off Addy. It’s important that our middle hitters find a way to be a part of the offense even with an out-of-system pass as we have to do a good job in not allowing opposing team blockers to cheat to the outside. We are also working to find ways that we can move Addy all along the net as she is a very versatile hitter.”
Seniors Jaidyn Collins (setter) and Chava Yevsa (right side) return to the varsity lineup.
Collins led the team in assists with 532 last year.
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“Jaidyn is in her third year as she has ran a 6-2 with former Jacket Chloe Shivers the past two seasons,” Collins said. “She has built solid setter-hitter relationships and continues to work on delivering a good ball based on hitter preferences. She does a nice job of seeing the floor and we will count on her to captain our offense.”
Yevsa is the only other returning player with varsity attacking experience with 46 kills last year.
“Chava has huge potential to be a factor and we have seen her on several occasions make a huge impact in some of our summer ball play,” Collins said. “We saw some nice swings from here (the) Willard league. She is our tallest player at 6’0 and we will look to her to put up a solid block from the right side. It will be important this season that she works really hard to transition from blocker to attacker finding a way to be a part of our offense on every transition.”
Shelby Halstead gives Lebanon another senior to look to for leadership. Halstead will play defensive specialist this year.
“Shelby is a defensive player and will see roles along the back row. She has an even-tempered personality allowing her to stay focused in tight match situations,” Collins said.
The junior trio of Addy Collins (libero), Ciaria Keeney (middle hitter) and Raylee Quick (middle hitter) will join the varsity rotation.
Coach Collins on Addy Collins: “Addy is quick and is making solid reads in defending the attack. She continues to work on her platform defensively to deliver a more consistent ball. She is our top vocal communicator on the floor and her constant communication benefits us greatly, especially with a young line-up.
Collins on Keeney: “Ciaria saw playing time in a couple varsity matches during district and sectional play and was a spark needed when called upon. She is versatile in her play and can swing all across the net. After losing two middle hitters last season, we have moved her from the outside and she has been working out of the middle. She is strong, athletic and agile and I felt that she would transition nicely in to this position.”
Collins on Quick: “Raylee, like Ciaria, has primarily been an outside hitter that we have moved in to the middle position. She has a long reach and is showing huge potential as she gains confidence in her ability.”
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Sophomore Saylor Helton has played six rotations a majority of the summer.
“She is another sophomore who is playing opposite Addy Rebmann,” Collins said. “Saylor is a gritty player and while she isn’t very big, she still manages to play big. Coming to the varsity level as a sophomore is a big difference in the speed of the game and Saylor has adjusted nicely and loves to compete.”
Classmates Morgan Durbin (setter), Kaidynce Buttram (middle hitter) and Rilee Jackson (outside hitter) are three more sophomores who have seen playing time at the varsity level this summer.
The returners and newcomers are ready to leave their stamp on the Lebanon volleyball program behind a tough defense.
“We are young, but hungry. These girls come in to the gym and take advantage of every opportunity they have to get better. They have big goals, not only as individuals, but as a team. This group has no intentions of living in the shadows of the graduating senior group. I think they can see that together they have the potential to do great things,” Collins said. “We take a lot of pride in our defense and spend a lot of time working to be the best defensive team that we can be. We have several players who aren’t afraid of the defensive grind and making some great plays in keeping the ball alive. I think this is one of our biggest strengths and makes us fun to watch play.”
Serve receive and depth at hitter are two places Lebanon is working to develop.
“Serve receive will be a big area of focus right from the start,” Collins said. “We will further define our top passers and work lane and seam responsibilities. It will be critical when in serve receive that we are playing the serve correctly so that we can more effectively transition in to offense and give our team an advantage. After losing such a strong group of senior attackers, we will have to develop some kids to fill those gaps. Our middles especially have a lot of work to do as we will need to become more consistent and learn to have a stronger presence at the net. And I think with the kids we have to fill those positions that they are ready to take on the challenge.”
Lebanon will travel to Springfield Central on Aug. 24 for a jamboree will host the Bulldogs, Strafford and Hollister. The Yellowjackets open the regular season on Aug. 27 at the Branson Tournament.