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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Lady Tigers seek league repeat

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mack McClure/Daily Mail Senior volleyball players for Nevada High School (from left): Kristen Badgley, Lindsay Rice, Lindsay Webb and Emma Dryer.
The Nevada High School Lady Tigers volleyball team added a 2006 Southwest Conference championship to the billboard at the NHS gymnasium last season, posting a 7-1 record for the first league crown at Nevada since the 2000 campaign.

The Lady Tigers, who finished 18-5 overall, losing to Holden in the district title match, has had a sample of the sweet taste of success.

Third-year Nevada head coach Trudy Fleeman says she doesn't see any reason why this year's version of the Lady Tigers cannot vie for another league crown -- and beyond.

"They want to win league again and do well at district," said Fleeman, formerly a four-year volleyball player for NCAA Division-II powerhouse Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg. "The bar has been set now so that we can achieve it."

The Lady Tigers, who open their season at Joplin's College Heights on Tuesday, Aug. 28, must replace graduated mainstays Brittany Crockett (5-foot-10 middle blocker) and Ashley Bryson (5-10 middle hitter), who combined for 165 kills last season, along with Amanda Wilson (5-8 right-side hitter/setter) and Bethany Brower (5-6 outside hitter).

According to Fleeman, however, that's not too tall of an order.

"I think we can," she said. "We just have to come together as a team. We lost six seniors and we have two varsity starters coming back (Emma Dryer, 5-8 senior right-side hitter/setter and Kristen Badgley, 5-5 senior outside hitter).

"I have four seniors (Lindsay Rice, Lindsey Webb, Dryer and Badgley) and one junior (Jessica Harper, 5-8 outside hitter) coming back with varsity experience."

Rice, a 5-10 senior, will be expected, among others, to step in on the front line and help fill the void left by Crockett and Bryson.

Fleeman said Rice is anxious to prove herself.

"She's coming in and she's ready to play varsity," Fleeman said. "She's very important there (on the front line)."

The biggest shortcoming for the Lady Tigers is match experience at the varsity level, according to Fleeman.

"We only have two returning starters," Fleeman reiterated. "Basically, we don't have a lot of varsity experience."

Nothing some varsity court time can't rectify.

"We're still learning, but we have a good team to build around," said Dryer, who led the team in assists with 175 last season and ranked third on the team with 208 digs. "We have strong players. We're not as tall, but we have one girl (Rice) that's just as tall as (Crockett and Bryson).

"We also have a sophomore, Mariah Mock (a 5-8 middle hitter), coming up and she's really good and she'll be playing in the middle, most likely. We're all pretty equal hitters. Everybody brings something different to the table."

Badgley, who last season ranked third on the team in serve receive (118) and fifth on the team in digs (164), says the team will have a new look with a lot of new faces moving up from the junior varsity.

"We have a lot of new players and we don't have a lot of varsity experience," she said. "We're like starting all new. We have a lot of talent this year.

"We don't have much height, but we have good quickness and we really need to build off our defense. We have pretty good verticals, for being short."

The Lady Tigers' team camp over the summer in Webb City helped the incoming varsity players to get accustomed to playing with one another.

"We had never played together before," Badgley said. "It helped a lot with the competition."

For Webb, a 5-7 outside hitter, she just wants to stay healthy for her senior year. She missed most of last season with a broken fingers, suffered while she was blocking and also missed all of her freshman season.

"My freshman year, I had surgery on my wrist, so yes, I'm pretty excited for this year," she said. "No broken bones, so far.

"I think we'll be back. Hopefully, we'll make it to sectionals. I think we have a lot of potential going in. We're pretty quick, but mainly we're jumpers."

The Lady Tigers will play their first six varsity matches on the road before their home opener on Thursday, Sept. 13, against Neosho.

For the stretch run of the season, the Lady Tigers, after taking part in the Carl Junction Invitational on Sept. 22, will have four consecutive home dates, including key matches against Joplin, El Dorado Springs, Carthage and Webb City).

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