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High School Volleyball: Jackson hopeful to break district title drought this season

The Jackson volleyball team enters its third season under head
coach David Mirly, who has led the Indians to 53 wins along with a SEMO
Conference Tournament Championship in his first season at the helm.

Coach Mirly said his past two teams have exceeded his expectations
and have bought in to the philosophy he has set to try and develop the culture
he wants for the program. This is what he wants his players to focus on instead
of just winning and losing.

“[We need to develop a culture] to become a championship program,”
Coach Mirly said. “… Even more important for us this year is how we act on
the court, how we act in practice and how we handle adversity. If you focus on
those things winning will come.”

Jackson has been able to reach the Class 4 District 1 Championship
match each season under Coach Mirly, but the Indians have fallen short in each
title game to Farmington.

Coach Mirly knows his team’s ultimate goal is to win a district
title, but he does not want that to define his team’s season because it’s just
one game.

The Indians lost a total of four seniors to graduation, including
last year’s setter Lainey Broussard and libero Hannah Wilson, who each earned
first team all-district and all-conference honors last season.

Even though Broussard and Wilson were some of the best players
Coach Mirly has ever coached, he said he is excited to see who can step up to
fill their roles.

Mirly also said it will take more than just one person to replace
those positions because of their talent. Filling in the back row has been the
likes of senior team captains Piper Guilliams and Mackenzie Stoner, junior
Katelyn Miller, junior Riley O’Neal and sophomore Alexa DeLuca.

Miller and Guilliams finished fourth and fifth on the team in digs
respectively with a combined total of 235. Wilson, who was named the SEMO
Conference Player of the Year, recorded 498 digs.

Stoner came up with 47 digs last season, while DeLuca and O’Neal
did not manage to see any varsity playing time.

“All of them are playing at such a high level and are starting to
play much more consistent that together they are filling the void of Hannah
Wilson,” Coach Mirly said. “They are filling the void of themselves because
they’re so much better this year than they were last year.”

Taking the setter position left by Broussard will be junior Madelyn
Bourner, who recorded a total of 81 assists last season while coming in for an
injured Broussard. Coach Mirly said his defense has been making her job easier
by their ability to pass the ball.

Jackson does however return four other all-conference members as
well as one all-district selection in junior hitter Hannah Shinn, who recorded
a team-high 288 kills along with the best kill percentage at 35.6.

The other returning all-conference honorees include Stoner, junior
hitters Haylee Quatmann and Olivia Ward.

Stoner will continue to see time in the front line on the left side
on top of her duties on defense. She finished second on the team in kills
behind Shinn with 192, while Ward (177) and Quatmann (125) finished third and

“Every one of [our hitters] are some much better,” Coach Mirly
said. “Olivia is playing at a high level and is much more consistent. Hannah
Shinn has picked up right where she left off last year. She’s going to be a
phenomenal force for us. Haylee Quatmann has always been a good hitter for us,
but now she’s developing into a good blocker, which adds another realm for our

Stoner has played in multiple spots for Coach Mirly in the last two
seasons, but he said she has really become a force at the left-side hitter
spot. He still wants to utilize her versatility, so she should continue to see
time at the other hitting positions.

One underclassmen who will make the step up to varsity this season
is sophomore hitter Mia Trankler, who will see time in the middle spot.

“She’s been working so hard to be a great varsity player,” Mirly
said. “She’s going to turn a lot of heads this year because of her athleticism
and work ethic. If we can consistently get the ball to our setter and the
setter can get the ball to our hitters, our hitters can definitely get the ball

Coach Mirly wants his players to maintain throughout this season is
coming together and having enthusiasm on the court so they are playing at a
high level no matter the opponent.

Over the summer, Jackson played in over 70 games and even though
the players are already close friends off the court, the way they compete and
cheer for each on the court brings them that much closer together.

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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