The Capital Lady Cavaliers are hoping last week’s volleyball jamboree in Warrenton is a sign of things to come.
Capital City have won all six games at the Jamboree, a year after coming away without a win at the pre-season event. The Lady Cavaliers want that momentum to continue in the program’s first-ever season-opening win as they host the Osage Lady Indians school tonight.
“We are very excited for the start of this season,” said Capital City manager Kelsey Vogler.
Capital City swept Jamboree games against Troy-Buchanan, Warrenton and the St. Louis Panthers. The Lady Cavaliers are coming off a 13-15-4 season, which included three defeats in five sets.
“We’ve already spoken many times about how we had close games with these opponents last year, when we weren’t fully established yet, we weren’t comfortable yet,” he said. Vogler said. “We competed with them last year so we are already talking about how we want to come back and we want to control what we know we can do.”
Capital City graduated their first senior class last year, so for the first time the Lady Cavaliers will have changes to their roster.
Senior Reagan Carel has been a setter for the past two seasons, but this year she will switch to outside hitter.
“We’ve seen her become a dominant hitter,” Vogler said, as Carel was fourth on last year’s team with 94 kills. “We know we need her to hit, and her serve-receipt is the second best we have on the court. We know we need her in six rotations.
With Carel’s move to the top spot, the Lady Cavaliers will go from a 6-2 attack to a 5-1. Senior Grace Marshall will be the lead setter, finishing with 281 assists last season.
“Grace really managed to be able to go all the way around and run 5-1 and control the field,” Vogler said. “She’s learned to continue her aggressive front-row play as a hitter like last year and to continue as an aggressive setter.”
Versatility will be a theme for this year’s Lady Cavaliers roster.
“I appreciate a versatile player,” Vogler said. “I express it to girls all the time.”
Ruby Sprenger senior returns to outside hitter and Ava Meinhardt senior is back to center hitter.
Meinhardt leads all comebacks with 156 kills and 47 blocks last season.
“She played behind Kiara Strayhorn last year, and she watched, she strove and continued to compete with Kiara,” Vogler said. “At this point, she’s passed where I believe Kiara was at, at this point last year.”
Sprenger is next on the comeback list with 125 wins.
“We continue to watch her make more mature moves on the outside and take on a more dominant role,” Vogler said.
Sophomore Ashlyn Marshall will also start in midfield this season. She started last season at JV level but played a few college sets.
“She definitely stepped into that role, and she still has that leadership from Ava that drives her,” Vogler said. “They are constantly competing and watching each other.”
Sophomore Addison Jones will be Capital City’s libero. Like Marshall, Jones also moved up to the college level last season.
“We saw her grow throughout her first season,” Vogler said. “When the districts started last year, she was in a starting role in college.”
Michelyn Appiah, a senior, will be a right side hitter for the Lady Cavaliers.
“We’ve now played her as an outside, midfielder and it’s her year on the right side,” Vogler said.
Senior Haley Libbert will be a defensive specialist at right-back, playing opposite Appiah. Sophomore Kalley Brase and junior Sarina Litteken will also be on Capital City’s college roster.
The Lady Cavaliers will compete in tournaments in Hickman, Eldon and Versailles this season. Last year, Capital City was 5-5-4 in those three tournaments.
“We won a few games, we lost a few and we had a lot of draws,” Vogler said.
She wants her team to turn those bonds into victories.
“We want to be above .500 (this season), and that’s very doable, especially in tournaments,” Vogler said. “If we can convert those ties into wins, not only will that put us in a better position in the tournament, but we will have the opportunity to take first place.”
In its first three seasons, Capital City went from zero wins to five wins to 13 wins. The Lady Cavaliers are looking to take the next step in Year 4.
“I think that’s been one of the real blessings of starting a program,” Vogler said. “These girls invested in it.”
Capital City will be in Class 4 of District 5 this season along with Bolivar, Camdenton, Helias, Jefferson City, Marshfield, Rolla and West Plains.