The Lady Bulldogs have four returning starters from last season. They are led by 1st Team All-OC Conference selection Rebecca Janke and fellow 1st Team All-OC Conference and All-District player Loran Pritchett. Also returning is Parker Bourne and Sophis Morland.

The Rolla Lady Bulldogs volleyball team began the 2019 season on Monday with team tryouts.

Stephanie Pritchett will lead the team for the third year in a row. She had also been part of the coaching staff from 1996-2003, as well as a stint in 2005. Pritchard has a 169-123-11 record at Rolla and has won 187 games over her coaching career. She is assisted by Nick Zink and Amy Luna. Both of them have been head and assistant coaches in the past.

Last year the Bulldogs had a 25-10-1 record and finished 8-2 in Ozark Conference (OC) action. Rolla was the runner up in the conference standings last year.

Coach Pritchett talked about what has changed from last season.

“We lost a lot last year in height and ability. This season we have great ability but will have to rely much more heavily on our defense and get better offensively,” she said. “We will also be running a 5-1 this season which will be a change as well.”

When asked about her goals for this season, the coach mentioned the team meeting its potential.

“Our goal is to build a team that challenges every team we play, and puts away every team we should beat. A great goal for us is to finish in the top three again,” she noted. “We obviously want to compete to win it all. We lost to the state champions in districts last season so we would love to win our district this year. Our biggest most definable goals will be to control the ball and never let the ball drop.”

The Lady Bulldogs have four returning starters from last season. They are led by 1st Team All-OC Conference selection Rebecca Janke and fellow 1st Team All-OC Conference and All-District player Loran Pritchett. Also returning is Parker Bourne and Sophis Morland.

Janke had a .367 hitting percentage and was second in kills with 208 on the season. She also collected 51 blocks on the net.

L. Pritchett led the team with 44 aces and 214 digs on the year. She also had 41 blocks, 339 assists, and 97 kills.

Coach Pritchett said there are a few things to like about this current group.

“We have returners with a lot of experience. We aren’t locked in in the other outside hitting position yet but incoming junior Madison Brown and sophomore Lexi Gillman will see some action,” Pritchett stated. “Emily Swizdor will play mainly middle as an incoming junior. Sophomore Emma Floyd may see some action at right side/middle. We have two returning with a lot of action from last year defensively. Senior Sophie Moreland played Libero last year and will be back for us. Maddie Lucas played defensive specialist last year and will be in the mix again this season. Returning OH/DS Bayli Graydon will see an increased role this season defensively as well.”

Unfortunately, there is one Bulldog who will not get to step on the court this fall.

“Junior Camryn Falkenhain is a loss for us this season. She tore her ACL this summer and recently had it repaired,” the coach pointed out. “We look forward to getting her back for next season. There are some other younger kids that might see action as well.”

The Lady Bulldogs will have a busy season as they have seven games in the first three weeks. They will also travel to Edwardsville, Ill., for a two-day tournament as well as faces several tough schools in the West Plains Tournament.

The Lady Bulldogs will host the Jefferson City Jays on September 17. Last year, they fell to the Lady Jays in a tough game and then defeated them in districts at the end of the season.

Coach Pritchett said this about Jefferson City, “They are better this year and we know a lot of their players. We hope to have a great match that night.”

She also added this about the new season and the athletes, “Each year is brand new. These kids love volleyball and play hard. I’m looking forward to a great year of fun and growth with them. Go Bulldogs!”