By Chris Parker
Cassville Volleyball has a new head coach in Paige Huddleston this year. She has experience as a coach at club level. Huddleston moved to Cassville last February and she jumped at the chance to take over Cassville’s volleyball program.
“Cassville has become our home over the past year, so when I heard about the job, I felt like it was meant to be,” Huddleston said. “I’ve been in the gym since I was little, always with a volleyball in my hand, and after playing at the top club and college, I felt it was time for me to give back. to the sport that has given me so much.”
She resumes a schedule that went 16-16-1 last year. The 16 wins were the most since 2017. Three players who graduated from this team took playoff honors.
There’s still plenty of returning experience for the Lady Cats with six returning players from last year’s varsity team.
Emerson Grossman earned honorable mention in all conferences as a sophomore after finishing second on the team with 227 kills.
“Emerson is developing into a solid six-rotation player and learning to take on her role as a leader on our court. From the match movie I watched last season, she is developing her passing and defensive skills and extending her net game to multiple front row positions,” Huddleston said. “Emerson is a very versatile player and has the ability to handle any role I throw at her. We’ll be using her mostly away from home this season but she could see the middle or the opposite depending on our weapons. opponents.
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Dulce Rivera is the team’s only returning senior. She is a versatile player who participated in 81 of 94 sets last year. She finished third on the team with 235 service receptions.
“She (Rivera) can fill any role for us and brings experience and great energy wherever she is on the court,” Huddleston said. “His communication on the pitch helps him be a mentor to his teammates.”
Four juniors in Madison Halterman, Hailey Roark, Pazlee Burbridge and Audrey Gosvener are also back.
Huddleston on Halterman: “Madison Halterman returns as a junior and steps in as a setter or opposite hitter/blocker. Her knowledge of the pitch and knowledge of the game proved to be an asset to her teammates on the pitch.
Huddleston-on-Roark: “Hailey Roark returns as a junior and benefits us as a utility player with her ability to play anywhere on the net or help out in the back row when needed. halftime for us this season.
Huddleston on Burbridge: “Pazlee Burbridge is coming back as a junior and will be an asset to us as a center blocker or potentially outside hitter. She will make a huge impact with her instinctive net game.
Huddleston on Gosvener: “Audrey Gosvener returns as a junior. She continues to develop as a six-rotation player on the outside. She could also see time as a DS as her passing skills developed.
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Junior Madelyn Holtmann, sophomore Makaiden Bolles and freshman Emma Pryor will be looking to contribute to the university this year.
Huddleston on Holtman: “She is a unique player who stands out for her hard work and dedication to improving her skills. She will have an impact on our court as a defensive specialist.
Huddleston-sur-Bolles: “She comes into the role of central blocker and although untested, her determination to improve will make her a key player for our team.”
Huddleston on Pryor: “Emma Pryor, a freshman, is an uncut diamond of infinite potential. Her awareness of the field and her agitation make her an outstanding passer.
Cassville will deploy a versatile lineup that will seek to enhance mental toughness.
“Depth and versatility (will be assets). We have several options in each position as well as many adaptable players who can play in more than one position. This unique dynamic gives us options when facing different types of teams with different offenses,” Huddleston said. “Mental toughness (needs to improve). Volleyball is a short burst game, so the ability to bounce in the lows and stay focused and aggressive in the highs is essential.
Cassville will travel to McDonald County on August 23 for a jamboree with host Mustangs, Lamar and Cassville. The Lady Cats will open the regular season on August 27 at the Branson tournament.