(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
"We're going to be young as far as experience goes because I lost five seniors last year," said Beydler. "I lost Rachel Beydler, Martika Davis and Caitlyn Underwood. All three of those girls were all-conference and Rachel and Martika were all-district and all-region. So, with that, that's a lot of power and then we also lost Jennifer Millington and Ali Harper."
"Having lost those girls, the girls I have as seniors this year don't have a tremendous amount of varsity experience," he added. "They played some and Casey Palmer ('09) last year was out for most of the year with an ankle injury."
Palmer injured her ankle during the final day of a team camp prior to the beginning of last season.
As far as leadership is concerned for the young squad, Beydler said that so far the team has taken to Keyarra Blissett for right now. He said that Mandy Moore and Palmer would fall in line after Blissett.
"Mainly it's going to be Keyarra," he said. "She's the one that I think the girls are looking to as the team leader. She's the one that kind of leads the pack as far as 'Girls we need to do this to get ready for the season.' She probably has the most varsity experience."
Moore had been playing setter behind Rachel Beydler, and after sitting in the shadows for the past two seasons, Moore has an opportunity to shine in 2008.
"This will be something she's basically ready for," said Beydler of his senior setter. "But, she doesn't have a lot of experience as the only setter on the team."
Another senior, Andrea Coleman, comes in after seeing a few varsity minutes last season. Beydler said that the starting rotation will probably consist of three seniors, two sophomores and then maybe a senior or a junior to fill in the remaining spot.
Beydler said that there are still question marks in other positions for the Lady Bulldogs and inexperience definitely plays a part in the final decision. However, he said that after a solid team camp showing over the summer, he's surprised with how well the Sikeston squad already looks.
"This year, the girls are basically looking for their spot," said Beydler. "It does open up for the possibilities for a few younger girls. I'm definitely going to have two sophomore girls playing varsity and by the end of the season, there's an outside chance that I could have one or two freshman starting varsity."
Madeline Davis, a middle blocker, and Vonteria Applewhite, an outside hitter, are two that Beydler sees a lot of potential in. He compared Applewhite to graduated senior Martika Davis because of her powerful hitting ability and extensive reach.
"I've got the possibility in the next couple of years to have some decent hitters which we haven't had in a couple of years."
"We're young and inexperienced and we're either going to sink or swim pretty quick," he went on to say. "We start off against Bernie, then a week later we go to that big tournament at SEMO, the big 40-team tournament. Then, I think the following week after that we go to the Perryville Tournament, so it's like within the first two weeks we probably play like a third of the games we're going to play in the whole season. They're going to see real quick what they need to work on or how they're doing."
Beydler said that it will be an interesting year, but he thinks it will be a good year to be in 'rebuilding mode.'
"I'd really like for this senior group to go out on a good note," he said. "It'd be good knowing that not a lot has been expected of them from other teams in the area."
The Lady Bulldogs will begin their season at Bernie on Sept. 2 at 6 p.m.
Coach: Steve Beydler
Last year: 13-13-4
Key players: Casey Palmer, Keyarra Blissett, Mandy Moore, Andrea Coleman, Madeline Davis and Vonteria Applewhite
Players lost: Rachel Beydler, Martika Davis, Caitlyn Underwood, Jennifer Millington and Ali Harper
Sept. 2 -- at Bernie, 6 p.m.
Sept. 4-6 -- Bernie JV Tourney, TBA
Sept. 10 -- vs. Saxony Lutheran, 6 p.m.
Sept. 12-13 -- BA Tournament, TBA
Sept. 15 -- at Cape Central, 6 p.m.
Sept. 16 -- vs. Puxico, 6 p.m.
Sept. 18 -- at Poplar Bluff, 6 p.m.
Sept. 20 -- Perryville Tournament, TBA
Sept. 22 -- at Bloomfield, 6 p.m.
Sept. 23 -- vs. Jackson, 6 p.m.
Sept. 25 -- vs. Scott City, 6 p.m.
Sept. 29 -- at Charleston, 6 p.m.
Sept. 30 -- vs. Oran, 6 p.m.
Oct. 2 -- at Dexter, 6 p.m.
Oct. 7 -- vs. Portageville, 6 p.m.
Oct. 15 -- vs. Notre Dame, 6 p.m.
Oct. 16-18 -- SEMO Conference Tournament, TBA
Oct. 20 -- at Bell City, 6 p.m.
Oct. 23 -- at NMCC, 6 p.m.
Oct. 27-30 -- Districts, TBA