2022 Fall Preview: Ozark Volleyball


By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

Ozark volleyball enjoyed another successful campaign in 2021 thanks, in part, to a deep and talented senior class.

The Tigers posted a 21-12 record, falling in the district semifinal to eventual champion Nixa.

Head coach Adeana Brewer, entering her ninth season at the Ozark helm, believes the strong influences imparted by her graduates will pay dividends for a relatively young and inexperienced squad this season.

“We were a veteran team last year with great chemistry and incredible senior leadership that made the season so enjoyable and competitive,” Brewer said. “Our program achieved many accomplishments and the senior class left a lasting impact on what we want our culture to be and instilled a drive for success in the underclassmen that will be filling their shoes.”

Graduates Hannah Vorhies, Ellie Schrader, Madison Reed, Grace Hall, Taylor Sampson, Kelly Sims and Kenna Humble all depart the program.

Vorhies received all-state honors last season. She will continue her volleyball career at the collegiate level (Drury University), as will Schrader (Pitt State University), Reed (Pitt State University) and Hall (Missouri S&T).

“We will miss our senior class leadership skills without a doubt,” Brewer said. “They demonstrated a level of maturity that was fun to coach and be around. Together they set high expectations of themselves and held each other and the rest of their teammates accountable. They made people around them better. They were unselfish, took initiative and demonstrated high character.”

Talented graduates typically open the door for new players to step into primary roles.

Ozark’s next standout is junior outside hitter Reagan Baade.

Baade, a six-rotation player finished the 2021 season with 200 kills, 17 blocks, 302 digs, 17 assists and 25 aces.

“Reagan is very agile and quick,” Brewer said. “She plays great floor defense and is one of the best serve-receive passers in our gym. She has a spring in her attack and a determination to get kills. Her demeanor on the floor is composed and competitive and she makes others around her better. She will be a big time leader for Ozark this fall.”

CLICK HERE FOR LINKS TO ALL OF OUR FALL PREVIEWS

Both will be joined in the lineup by fellow returnees Skylar Hilton, Ashya Thompson, Jenna LaBarge, Anna Howe, Emma Godwin and Sophie Morris.

Hilton, a sophomore middle hitter, moved into the varsity lineup halfway through the season as a freshman and recorded 57 kills and 20 blocks.

“Skylar has put in a lot of work in the off season to get stronger and quicker in the middle,” Brewer said. “She brings height to our front row and should be a force in the middle for us offensively this season.”

Thompson, a junior middle attacker, split time between varsity and junior varsity in 2021 and finished her varsity season with 37 kills and 25 blocks.

“Ashya has really put a lot of work in the middle in the off season to become strong and dominant,” Brewer said. “She is a smaller middle so she has to work a bit harder than most middles to get pin-to-pin to block and to attack above or around the block. She works so hard, I have no doubt her work ethic alone will get her playing time on the court.”

LaBarge, a junior defensive specialist/libero, also split time between varsity and JV last season, posting 130 digs, 13 assists and 8 aces.

“Jenna will be competing for the libero spot,” Brewer said. “But with her consistency on serve receive and her anticipation and reading skills on defense, she will help anchor our backcourt this fall.”

Senior libero Anna Howe will also see an increased role this season, after recording 55 digs and 6 assists last year in limited varsity action.

“Anna is not afraid to step into a leadership role and she is disciplined on and off the court,” Brewer said. “She received some playing time at the varsity level last season but her role will become more consistent her senior year.”

Seniors Emma Godwin and Sophie Morris also return to the lineup with the prospect of increased roles.

“Emma is a competitive athlete who can do everything well,” Brewer said. “A utility player that will compete for some playing time both in the front and back row.

DOWNLOAD THE O-ZONE APP NOW!
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD FOR APPLE
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD FOR ANDROID

“Morris is a right side/middle that played consistently in those roles as a JV player. She will compete for playing time on the front row. She has an extremely quick arm swing and gives us good depth in those positions.”

In addition to its returning core, Ozark will lean on a trio of varsity newcomers this season to make immediate impacts on the roster in Reece Cook, Tara Venable and Emery Southerland.

Cook, a sophomore setter, will move into the primary spot on the varsity squad in 2022.

“Reece will transition with ease into our varsity setting position,” Brewer said. “Her work ethic is unmatched and her desire for Ozark volleyball to be best is second to none. She has already demonstrated her ability to lead the team vocally and emotionally on the floor and I expect her to do great things in the next three years.”

Venable, a talented freshman outside hitter, is expected to start from the jump for the Tigers.

“Tara hits the ball incredibly hard at a high contact point,” Brewer said. “She is able to pass to attack and run a variety of attacking options across the front row. I am excited to have a freshman with the potential that she holds in our line up.”

Southerland, a junior right side, is entering her first year at Ozark.

“Emery joins our program this year after homeschooling,” Brewer said. “She is lefty right side that should bring us another good option on the right side. She has a very quick arm swing and has good body awareness and confident court presence.”

While the Tiger lineup will field a host of new faces, Brewer has high hopes after seeing her team compete over the summer.

“We will be a young team but we have already demonstrated so much maturity, grit and determination this summer,” Brewer said. “Our team’s expectations are high and we believe that if we are clicking on all cylinders we have an opportunity in front of us to go far into the postseason. Our team may take the first half of the season to work out some kinks, but our potential has a high, high ceiling.”

That potential will depend largely on Cook’s ability to quickly adjust to the varsity level and gel with the many new faces surrounding her.

“Our primary setter will be new to the floor this year as a varsity player, but she has not skipped a beat moving into that role this summer,” Brewer said. “The key component that we will expect out of her is to put up consistent balls in location to allow our hitters to do the work. She possesses so much more, her poise, consistency, and leadership skills are beyond her years. I am excited to watch her quarterback our offense this upcoming season.”

At the net, Brewer expects Ozark’s attackers to be dynamic and versatile this season.

“Our attack options are a bit more broad this year with the players we have on the floor,” Brewer said. “This will put a bit more pressure on our opposing team to track our hitters and they may have to work a bit harder to put a solid double block. I am hoping this year our offense will be a bit more balanced and we have several attack options to choose from.”

Ozark opens its season Aug. 27 at Rogers, Ark. against Rogers Heritage.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.