Nixa coach Jennifer Perryman’s program has had to show what has proven to be exceptional depth to continue its winning ways in recent seasons.
The Lady Eagles’ 19-8 team from last season certainly didn’t feature the same starting lineup most had envisioned a year or two prior. Three potential starters weren’t part of the team.
Kelsey Biro missed all of last season due to a hip injury. Kenzie Hines bypassed her junior season to focus on volleyball. Taylor Arnold had transferred to Blue Eye a year earlier. Biro is now playing college ball at Henderson State (Arkansas) and Arnold is playing at Evangel.
All three had started at some point in their Nixa careers.
This season, All-COC First-Team selection Emily Edwards will be available for only short periods of playing time after having a heart defibrillator placed in her chest over the summer. Also, Arnold’s younger twin sisters, Avery and Riley, are now starting at Blue Eye and sisters Carly and Mackenzie Sampson are now starting at Clever after transferring from Nixa. Also, Reeds Spring senior forward Carly Reaves-Eakins transferred from Nixa followog her eighth-grade year.
No matter, the Lady Eagles, who also won 19 games two years ago, again have winning on their minds.
“We’re so deep and have so much talent,” guard Gabby Nielsen said. “It’s not devastating when things happen because we have girls who have to step and do step up. And, we all work well together.”
Nielsen leads a core group of players returning from last season that also includes Edwards, Tori Yantis, Katie Kamies and Ali Kamies.
In addition, Hines has re-joined the team in time for her senior year.
Yantis relates the bonds the Lady Eagles share have been strengthened through the program losing players via injuries in particular.
“We’ve shown through all the adversity how much better of a dynamic we have now,” Yanits said. “We had five or six girls injured during the summer. We’ve all been in each other’s shoes being injured. We know how much it sucks to sit on the sideline and have to cheer everyone on because you can’t go in the game.
“It makes us appreciate each other more and what each other individual girls does," she added. "It’s also shown us when we’re all here and healthy, that it’s a blessing. We need to use that to our advantage because we know nothing is guaranteed.”
Nixa’s non-conference opponents include formidable foes in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Columbia Rock Bridge, Kickapoo, West Plains and Skyline. The Lady Eagles’ tournament trail includes visits to the Olathe East, Kansas, Invitational, the Pink & White Lady Classic and the Nixa Invitational Tournament.