By Chris Parker
Rolla volleyball won 21 matches last year. Expectations remain high despite graduating seven seniors thanks in large part to returning three players who each had at least 150 kills in 2021.
Jessica Pritchett is the leader of that group. The versatile senior led Rolla in kills (190) and assists (468). She was named second-team all-conference.
“Jessica’s strength comes from her knowledge of the game. She has been around volleyball her entire life and played varsity since she was a freshman, this experience has elevated her game play and allows her to strategically see and put the ball away as an attacker,” Rolla head coach Nick Zink said. “Our expectations for Jessica are to continue the success she has had for volleyball. She will be a captain and starting setter, and we will look to her to lead our offense. We are also adding a new position to her play this year as a middle, we are hoping to see her here as a key defensive player as well.”
Fellow seniors Emma Cook and Campbell Smith also return to the attack. Cook had 179 kills last year while Smith put down 153 kills.
“These three seniors have been playing together for years and because of this they have developed a really good chemistry on the court,” Zink said. “With Smith and her variety of swings and Pritchett as the middles and Emma with her ability to adapt to the opposing block on the outside, they really make the opposing defense have to work to keep the ball up.”
Mikenna Medlock rounds out the returning seniors. She played in 17 assists last year.
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“Mikenna Medlock will be returning as a defensive specialist/libero,” Zink said. “We look for her to help lead our defense on our side. Her work ethic and hustle to go after every ball will be an asset on the back row.”
Junior Haley Smith earned all-district honors in 2021 after finishing second in assists with 227.
“Haley Smith will be returning as a six-rotation starter,” Zink said. “She was all-district honorable mention last year and we will be looking to lean on her to help Jessica run the offense as one of our setters.”
Junior middle hitter Resa Martin will have an expanded role this year.
“Resa will have a larger role than she had last year,” Zink said. “She is a six-rotation player with great ball control and a potent attack in the front row.”
Junior Anna Covey will be a key player at defensive specialist for Rolla.
“Anna will be stepping up this year in the back row for Rolla,” Zink said. “She will be contributing some great ball control and a tough serve this year.”
Fellow junior Jenna Plank will be on the front row.
“Jenna will be helping us out on the front row this year,” Zink said. “Jenna will be our other additional outside hitter and has great potential to put the ball away.”
Emily Housom (junior), Keely McKnight (junior) and Riley Ball (sophomore) all could see time on varsity.
Rolla will travel to Washington for a jamboree before opening the season on Aug. 27 at the Branson Tournament.
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“Rolla has the potential to have a great season and could surprise some teams,” Zink said. “We would like to see another district championship appearance and have a successful season in our conference.”