The Jefferson R-7 Blue Jays Varsity Volleyball season is already underway. So far the team has a 1-2 record, with losses to Seckman and Ste. Genevieve and a win against Kingston.
As they enter the heart of the season, let’s look at some of the players on the Jefferson R-7 Volleyball squad.
The 2020 season was difficult for all of us, including High School athletes. However, the Blue Jays Volleyball team persevered and managed to turn in a respectable 12-6 record. The good news is that Jefferson only graduated three Seniors: Mackenzie Rarick, Laney Smith and Payton Siebert.
This year, the team will be returning four players for their Junior season. What is special about these four players, is that all four have been Varsity starters since their Freshman year. Having four players that have played together for their entire high school tenure so far is a huge advantage for a team, as consistency and leadership can be key when attempting to make a run at a District Championship or even a State Title.
Emma Breir is an all-around stud. According to Head Coach Tara Fish, “Emma has worked very hard all summer in the weight room and it shows. When we think of her, we think of hitting and blocking, but this girl’s back row defense and serving are excellent! She has really grown as a leader this summer too, challenging her teammates to want more and be the best they can be.”
Kirstyn Loyd is a another Junior and all around stand out. Last season she played hitter and setter, but this year she will be not only be hitting but also playing back row. Coach Fish noted, “She has been giving her shoulder a break most of the summer but has been a dominating blocker. Her back row coverage and leadership skills are huge for us. She has been another hard worker in the weight room all summer. She is always smiling and talking to her teammates.”
Junior Ava Roth played all around for Jefferson last season and will continue to do so. Coach Fish commented, “When this kid hits the ball, everyone in the gym hears it! Her back row defense continues to impress as well. She is another hard worker in the weight room, and she is always talking to her teammates trying to help them get the most out of what we are working on.”
Rounding out the returning Junior package is setter Paige Siebert. “Paige is connecting so well with our hitters and has done a great job running the offense this summer. Not only that, she plays some great defense and is an excellent server! She is an excellent role model for all of the setters in our program,” said Coach Fish.
There are many other players that will determine the success of the Jefferson volleyball program this season. Senior Maddie Edmond is one of the two elder statesmen on the squad. “Maddie has worked hard in the weight room and has really impressed us with her serving as well as her defense. She just got better and better as the summer went on,” said Coach Fish.
Riley Duvall is a Junior that dominated at the net for the Junior Varsity squad last season and dressed Varsity until she got injured during the Festus game. Coach Fish said, “She would have seen some Varsity time last year. She is a good quick hitter and blocker in the middle and will be an important part of our success.”
Avery Richardson is another Junior that dressed Varsity last season, but will be playing this season as a hitter/blocker. “She has worked hard all year getting faster and stronger. She will be a key player for us at the net,” said Coach Fish.
Maclayne McPeters was a Junior Varsity hitter last season. Coach Fish said, “She worked extremely hard in the weight room all summer. She does an excellent job setting the block for our middles and has a great serve. She also brings some leadership and humor to the team which is essential for our success.”
Lydia Strohmeier is the other Senior, who will be playing primarily defense. “She worked hard in the weight room all summer. She has been working hard on adding some special serves to her skill set. Lydia is always positive and makes sure that her teammates are taken care of and cheering loud for them. She is a huge asset as well as a wonderful teammate.”
Junior Malayne Lednick will also be a defensive player. Coach Fish noted, “She was a key versatile player on our JV team the past two seasons, so we are excited to have her play defense for us this year.”
Caycee Schwartz, another Junior, will be playing defense for the Blue Jays. “She comes to us from JV playing Libero and is so quick,” said Fish.
The expectation that Coach Fish has laid out is simple. She said, “We are going in with the mindset ‘I play for her.’ Our goal is going all of the way through postseason play. We have the skills and we just need to do what needs to be done to get there.”
Some of the strength of this team comes from the leaders. “The team just voted Kirstyn and Ava as Varsity team Captains, but honestly there were a lot of votes for several of the Varsity players. We have other athletes that lead in lots of ways so we will be able to lean on that. We also have excellent parental support and they are excited to see the girls succeed.”
The Blue Jays are ready for action and need to be as they enter the SEMO tournament, starting on Friday, September 10th, with two games; the first at 4:30 p.m. and the second at 6:10 p.m., and at least one game on Saturday at 9:40 a.m.
Good luck Jefferson R-7 Volleyball!