North Callaway volleyball looking to prove itself

By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 8/24/22

The first season for North Callaway volleyball head coach Andrew Klein was a down year but a step in the right direction.

Klein said he would like to see the Ladybirds take some more this year …

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North Callaway volleyball looking to prove itself


The first season for North Callaway volleyball head coach Andrew Klein was a down year but a step in the right direction.

Klein said he would like to see the Ladybirds take some more this year after what was a debut season for many in the program.

Prior to last year, Klein had not coached volleyball and several on the roster had little to no volleyball experience. A good way to promote better competition against other schools is to promote better competition from within, Klein said.

“I’m encouraging more friendly competition,” Klein said. “Last year, I think that I picked my few that I wanted to play. This year, I’m more focused on allowing some girls to prove to me during practice whether or not they need to play. It’s making everybody a lot better.”

Klein said he learned lessons from attending a coaches clinic during the summer and is now eager to learn more about his team this season, especially who wants playing time the most. Only six players can be on the court at any given time and he said there are about nine or 10 girls fighting for the playing time.

During the first couple weeks of fall practices, Klein said he has been impressed how much his players have grown with a year under their belts as well, regularly holding each other accountable to the best they can be.

“I’m super proud of my team,” Klein said. “They are so much better at dealing with adversity than last year. They’ve grown so much in that category, and that’s why I became a coach. You can only play volleyball for so long, but if I teach them how to deal with adversity, we’re going to deal with adversity all of our lives.”

A few of the players that have demonstrated this growth and will be key factors for North Callaway this year include senior setter Ellie Pezold, junior libero Riley Blevins and sophomore outside hitter Natalie Shryock.

Pezold tallied 163 assists to lead the team by far, Blevins had the second-most assists with 44 but led the team with 41 digs and was close to the kills lead with 49, and Shryock tied the graduated Jenny Selby’s 52 kills and set a new school single season blocks record with 43 – beating the previous 35 set by Colleen Meffert. Blevins was the lone Ladybird on the all-conference team, making the first team in her first year at North Callaway that followed a transfer from Mexico.

Freshman outside hitter Rylee Horstman and sophomore outside hitter Avis Heuer will be first-year Ladybirds who Klein expects to have key roles this season. Heuer is a transfer from Wisconsin and is coming from an established volleyball program, which has given Klein some insight.

“This group is incredible at being good at a lot of different things,” Klein said. “I’d say we have a lot of utility-like players. They gel really well with one another, and they can play multiple positions, which is awesome.”

Even though North Callaway has gelled so far, Klein said it could get better in the sense of the Ladybirds communicating with one another. He said this was a problem last season and led to the team making many unforced errors.

North Callaway obviously needs to defeat other teams to increase its win total year after year but can’t lose the importance of not beating themselves, Klein said.

“Good communication is letting your teammates know where you’re setting it or whether or not you can take a ball or not or if you need help,” Klein said. “I think that’s one we really struggle with. If the setter is supposed to get the second ball and if they can’t get to it, letting their teammates know that they can’t get to it by saying ‘Help’ or “You go’ or something like that will help us keep balls from falling on our side.”

If the Ladybirds can do this, Klein said they can become “fluid” like a “pulley system” – “when this person goes up, this person drops back” or “when this person goes right, the other person fills their spot.” Seamlessly moving around the court without bumping into one another and missing assignments will help North Callaway achieve its goals.

Klein said he has “lofty” goals for his team as he would like to see it compete for the conference title. Montgomery County won the Eastern Missouri Conference a season ago with a 10-14-3 record. He also said he would like to see North Callaway place in a tournament this year.

North Callaway doubled its win total with 4-19 record but lost every conference match, which what makes the goal so lofty, Klein said, but the team has to handle conference opponents if it hopes to handle any opponent.

“I think that our team is right behind Montgomery,” Klein said. “I think that the other teams we played last year, we competed with. We didn’t lose too many people – we only had two seniors – so I think conference is a real expectation.”


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