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Youthful Lady Tigers carry confidence and added height at net into season


The mindset of her current bunch stands out as much as anything for Ozark coach Adeana Brewer while looking ahead to the Lady Tigers’ season.

“This group is extremely confident,” Brewer said. “They are not lacking for confidence. That's the number one thing you have to have while competing on the floor, being confident in your ability and team's abilities. Each position, we feel confident in. We've had a couple holes in the past. But we feel we are solid in each position. We're not trying to make up for a hole we have in a sport. That's going to help balance our offense.”

No one brings more balance to Ozark than junior Reagan Baade. Her sophomore season saw her collect 200 kills, 302 digs, 17 blocks and 25 aces.

Brewer puts Baade in the same company as former Lady Tigers greats Paige Perry and Macey Putt as six-rotation stars.

“She's a great serve-receive passer, a great defender and we're looking for her team to lead the team kills,” Brewer said. “She's going to make a huge impact. She's as good, if not better, in the back row as she is in the front row. She has a demeanor that makes people around her better. Her ability to make players better in the front row is going to be there and her ability to make players in the back row is going to be there. She's going to impact everybody. You only have special kids who can do that.”

Ozark’s attack at the net will also be led by Skylar Hilton, Ashya Thompson, Terra Venable, Emory Southerland, Emma Godwin and Sophie Morris.

Hilton is a sophomore, Venable a freshman and Southerland, a junior, is playing school for the first time as a former home-schooler.

Hilton recorded 57 kills and Thompson collected 37 kills and 25 blocks last season.

Reece Cook, a sophomore, takes over as Ozark’s setter.

Jenna LeBarge and Anna Howe are at libero.

“Reagan and Terra will hit on the outside, Ashya and Skylar in the middle, Reece is transitioning into our setter's role, Jenna, Emma and Anna will anchor our defense, Sophie providing us some depth on our front row and Emory is a left-handed right side,” Brewer said.

Brewer expects the Lady Tigers to progress rapidly.

“We're going to go through growing pains. If they can keep their confidence and selflessness, I expect they're going to do well,” she said. “We like to break down teams we play and attack and exploit their weaknesses, while maintaining the level of play we want. This team has the IQ to teach that in our gym and find wins that way.”

Following the lead of last season’s team, Brewer reports this Ozark edition is cohesive.

“I like the confidence and team chemistry, even though they are from different classes,” Brewer said. “It's a mix of seniors to freshmen. They've done a good job of meshing. The senior girls have done a great job at being very welcoming and embracing that we're a young team and also embracing their roles. They have been welcoming of our new players with open arms. It takes a special senior class to do that.”

Brewer adds the Lady Tigers aren’t looking ahead to their future. Rather, they are focused on success this season.

“Their eyes are on the prize of winning another District championship,” Brewer said. “They haven’t liked not being in that position the last three years, after what Ozark volleyball had achieved for so many years. They are hungry.”