Fall 2022 Preview: Mt. Vernon Volleyball

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By Chris Parker

Mt. Vernon Volleyball will be recharging this year after graduating from a six-man senior class that had 73 wins in their four years, including a 23-win district championship season as juniors.

“These six have each brought something very unique to our program,” Mt. Vernon head coach Bridgett Schmutz said. “As a group, they had played a lot of volleyball together and knew each other’s strengths. They continued a standard of volleyball tradition at Mt. Vernon.

Sophomore Cheyenne Bieber is the only returning player who had more than four eliminations last season, bringing home 94 eliminations. She will play a combination of middle and outside hitter.

“Cheyenne is a dynamic and extremely competitive multi-sport athlete every time she steps onto the court. We’re looking for Cheyenne to use her athleticism to make plays at net; both offensively and defensively,” Schmutz said. “She had the opportunity to play at the back over the summer and her ability to play has really been on display.”

Junior Payge Evans is the only other returning player to see more than 10 rounds of college action last year. Evans, who went all 85 sets, had 199 digs and 187 service receptions last year.

“Payge has a ton of volleyball experience, playing at the club off season,” Schmutz said. “Payge will seamlessly step into the role of libero, filling the shoes of Solai (Pham). She has grown so much over the past two years; a constant communicator, an excellent leader on the ground and a scrappy, intelligent defender.

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Seniors Nina Cowherd and Jordan Duncan will be two players moving from junior college to college this year.

Schmutz on Vacher: “Cowherd has been a solid player for the JV team for the past three seasons. She’s quick, extremely athletic; a former top gymnast and trackster, Nina has lots of hang time and is very agile.”

Schmutz on Duncan: “Jordan Duncan is another player who will transition from JV to varsity. She has a high scoring serve and is a solid defender and a good passer.

A trio of sophomores in Macie West (setter), Teagyn Huver (middle/opposite) and Rae Downing will also be newcomers this year.

Schmutz on West: “West is another player with a lot of experience and she will be called upon to lead the offense. Despite her size, she is a heady player who throws a great ball and plays with a lot of fire.

Schmutz on Huver: “Teagyn Huver has the most size in the squad and uses his long reach to help set up a good first line of defense at the net.”

Schmutz on Downing: “Rae Downing defines the role of strength and tenacity; she can play multiple positions from the floor and has a high ceiling for growth.

Schmutz expects a pair of freshmen at Camryn Cornell and Hali Stokes to make a college impact in their freshman year of high school.

“Camryn Cornell is already performing beyond a traditional freshman; she doesn’t get rattled, she takes big hits and has proven to be a solid defender at the back,” Schmutz said. “Hali Stokes, on the other hand, is relatively new to volleyball, coming to MV as an eighth grader. Stokes is incredibly strong and jumps really well. She’s very raw but picks up the speed of the game very quickly. . “

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Mt. Vernon has a whole host of new faces to mix, but the chemistry has been going strong this summer.

“The team chemistry has been really fun to watch develop over the summer. The girls like each other, they have a lot of fun together and I think they will use this battle throughout their youth as they navigate the Big 8 East together,” Schmutz said. “With a lot of experience to renew over the last two years, the team will have to mature quickly. We will have to have a balanced attack with several players who can score in multiple ways and as always; be the most disjointed team on the pitch will be a necessity.

Mt. Vernon will travel to Clever for a jamboree with host Blue Jays and Webb City. The Mountaineers open the regular season Aug. 29 in Forsyth.

“Our goal is to compete night after night,” Schmutz said. “We don’t own the size, but the team has worked harder this offseason than any other team in the weight room and in their agility training.”

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