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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Volleyball team hopes for balanced attack

Friday, August 29, 2003

Seniors Paige Kaiser, left, Rachael Vining, center, and Erin Box will lead Sikeston's volleyball team in the 2003 season
(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Sikeston's volleyball team will open the 2003 season on Sept. 2, hosting Bernie. How good will the Lady Bulldogs be?

The jury is still out on that.

Having lost both Joy Daniel and Emily Slaten to graduation, Sikeston has some major holes to fill.

Slaten was the team's main setter the last three years and Daniel was the team's top offensive player.

"They were probably 65 to 70 percent of our total offense last season," said Sikeston coach Steve Beydler. "This year, we're going with a more balanced attack. The last year or so, we didn't have to be that balanced because we had such a strong player."

To fill the void, Sikeston looks to seniors Paige Kaiser, Rachael Vining and Erin Box. Vining and Kaiser are outside hitters while Box is a setter.

"The three of them come back with the most experience," said Beydler. "Paige and Rachael have been chosen as captains by the team. I think the other girls look up to them. Erin has also been in our system for some time."

Vining was an All-District performer last season, carry the team at times toward the end of the year. Beydler is hoping she can pick up where she left off.

"She's hitting stronger and better than she ever has," said Beydler of Vining. "Paige has also been extremely impressive with the way she's been swinging at the ball, both front row and back row."

This year Missouri has gone to rally scoring in high school volleyball, eliminating sideouts. The move could change how matches are won across the state.

"We're going to have to be strong defensively," said Beydler. "(With rally scoring) serving is going to be important. Every team needs a very good serving percentage this year, or they will be giving up points and the ball each time."

Top juniors on the team include setter Maggie Pfefferkorn, middle blocker Berneatress Hunt and hitter Audra Wooley. Sophomore Robyne Morris will also play middle blocker.

"Berneatress and Robyne are probably two of my most athletic players, along with Rachael Vining," said Beydler. "They have the highest vertical jumps on the team -- that's why they're playing middle blocker."

Senior Mallory Wiffen is back out for the team after sitting out last season. There are also a couple of underclassmen that might work their way into the varsity lineup this season.

"I really have a strong freshman group this year," said Beydler. "One or two of those girls could put in time if I was to need them. But right now, I need them to get as much playing experience as possible, so they will play strictly jayvee at the start of the season. Sikeston volleyball is going to look good in the next few years to come. Each year, it's going to get stronger and stronger as those girls gain experience."

Two foreign exchange students from Germany are also on this year's team.

Junior Leoni Voss comes in with experience and will start on the junior varsity.

"She's extremely good on defense and she's also a good setter," said Beydler. "She could see some varsity time before it's all said and done."

Kaye Bucholz could also figure into the mix.

"(Bucholz) doesn't have a whole lot of experience, but she wanted to come out for the team," said Beydler. "We're just trying to give her the all-around American experience here."

After hosting Bernie on Tuesday, Sikeston will be tested again on Sept. 9, participating in the SEMO Conference Tournament.

"It's hard to say what kind of season we're going to end up with," said Beydler. "There are some question marks. I'm really hoping that we can end up with a good season. If we finish above .500, I will feel we're headed in the right direction."