By Michael Cignoli (for OzarksSportsZone.com)
SPRINGFIELD — Ahead of Bella Faria’s second season, Kickapoo coach Marci Adams said the Chiefs are looking for her to swing big, record lots of digs and play with intensity.
It’s safe to say that Faria did all of that – and more.
Faria led the Chiefs in four major statistical categories during a breakout season that ended with securing one of 36 spots on the Class 5 All-State team. becomes even more impressive when you realize that 29 of these places were occupied by juniors or seniors.
“The fact that she’s a sophomore and that she’s on this list doesn’t shock me,” Adams said. “At the start of our season, she knew she would face older girls than most of her matches and she is ready for any challenge that comes her way. His ability to compete without fear is one of his main strengths.
This competitive nature propelled Faria to the top of the 2021 team standings for kills (295), aces (42), digs (276) and receptions (404) – numbers that should only improve then. that the junior and her teammates are looking to get Kickapoo’s eighth. consecutive 20-win season this fall.
“Bella’s volleyball IQ continues to grow,” Adams said. “Correlate that with her growing skills and you’ll see her reach as a striker and defender grow. She’s extremely focused on being solid on her first touch. She wants the ball no matter the score, which creates confidence within the team. a team.
The Chiefs graduated five players from last season’s 26-8 squad, but fired three other players who earned playoff honors as underclassmen. With Faria, Reagan Greenway, Kya Johnson and Grace Gardner forming the core, the Chiefs look like a formidable opponent this fall.
“Throughout the summer, the 2022 Volleychiefs have already proven that they are a team that hates to lose,” Adams said. “They value first contact, ball control and communication. Their goal is for team chemistry and grit to be our greatest strength.
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Greenway, a junior, and Gardner, a senior, combined to record 887 assists last season as the Chiefs opted to have two players at the helm of their offense. Both have earned all-conference and all-district honors.
Gardner split his time between setting and striking, finishing with 316 assists and 155 kills.
“Grace will likely find herself in a similar but different position to the opposite,” Adams said. “Her volleyball IQ is second to none and she works her cock in the weight room. Combine that with her skills and her desire to have top-notch team chemistry and she’ll be set for a fantastic senior season.
Greenway thrived as the team’s primary setter, collecting 571 assists in her freshman season.
“This year of college experience will serve him well in decision-making and pressure plays,” Adams said. “She’s so quick, has good hands and is a great defender. Her hustle plays ignite our team. The setting position is an inglorious role and it takes a selfless person to pull it off. Reagan is fun to watch and likes to create opportunities for our hitters.
Johnson, a junior defensive specialist, ranked second on the team in receptions (320) and aces (37). Her 200 digs ranked third and helped her earn honors from all conferences and all districts.
“Our team knows what we’re going to get from this kid and that’s still all they have,” Adams said. “It could start with a motivational conversation or a reunion after a tough game. She is determined to move forward and her platform shows it. His vision and anticipation continue to grow, the result of an excellent club season and his experience in high-level basketball.
These four will take on even bigger roles now that the Class of 2022 have graduated. Two of Kickapoo’s five graduates were playoff winners who plan to play college volleyball.
Ali Dawson is now at Cottey College, while Lauryn Farish will fit for Missouri State-West Plains. Syndi Baldner and all-conference and all-district picks Hannah Wahlquist and Caroline Field also graduated.
“As with any graduating class, we had a great mix of leadership, maturity, fun and talent.” said Adams. “We wish them well for the future and grateful for the mark they have left.”
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But several other players are set to step in for the Chiefs this fall.
Defensive specialist Nikki Hamme is one of only two seniors on the team.
“She’s super quick when it comes to throwing a ball,” Adams said. “Her serve has gotten more movement and she takes the senior leader role to heart.”
Junior Emma Eaton had 221 digs last year, the second-highest total on the team.
“She loves stealing kills from hitters by doing good digs,” Adams said. “She works hard to be in the right position and has great ball pursuit. I know our hitters would also compliment Emma on her ability to help them find ways to score. She’s feisty and fun to watch.
Sophomore Hannah Gardner will be leaving the scout team, where she thrived as a setter and hitter.
“She will be involved in running our offense with Reagan,” Adams said. “Her knowledge of the game is a huge asset as she strategizes and sets our hitters up for success. She sees the ground well and is learning more and more to use her left hand to score.
Juniors Claire Doennig, Jenna Perryman, Lily Maupin and Parker Papa are all hitters. Doennig and Maupin saw college action last fall, while Perryman and Papa are new to the team.
“The 2022 roster is a great mix of college returns and newcomers, but the newcomers are just new to the lineup,” Adams said. “They have all played important roles in 2021 training and have put in tons of hours in the club season to build their skills.”
Time will tell if the work will help Kickapoo win its first district championship since at least 2008.
The Chiefs are perennial contenders in the Ozark Conference — they went 10-0 last year to win another title — but they’re 0-5 in district title games during this 20-season streak. victories.
District assignments have yet to be released, but recent history suggests the road to a title will be through Nixa.