OSAWATOMIE — The Lady Trojan volleyball team walked onto the court ready to compete last season. Now, instead of just competing, they want to win more of those close matches this season.

Thirty-one players are out for the program, including six letter-winners who also started a year ago.

Ready to compete for the Lady Trojans are senior libero Molly Spencer, senior right side hitter Tara Haag, senior setter Sydney Booe, junior outside hitter Allie Lagasse, junior outside hitter Maddie Ballou and sophomore setter Avery Dempsey.

Coach Emily Ballou is in the second season of her second tour with the volleyball program.

The leadership has been exceptional and the team is a family, which means a lot on the hardwood floor during a long season, Ballou said.

“We have several seniors out this year who have been with the Osawatomie programs for several years,” she said. “They are very strong leaders. We had several of the girls at weights and open gym this summer. They are here to leave their mark this year.”

The Lady Trojan volleyball program started practice like any other program across the state of Kansas — with one exception — a volleyball.

For the first three days of practice, which started Monday, Aug. 19, the Osawatomie girls practiced without a ball.

Osawatomie did hit the ball back to each other during warm-ups one afternoon, but after that the balls went to the baskets and were put up.

The Lady Trojans were still working hard, running and running and running.

It was just disguised as capture the flag and various forms of tag. Strategy and teamwork were also involved with the running.

“Our goals are to have fun and work hard,” coach Ballou said. “If those things fall into place and the girls gain confidence in themselves, we will build on what we did last season and this team will be the force I know they can be.”

Skyler Gravatt returned to the hardwood court after missing a season while recovering from a knee injury. She tried out for the program and made the squad.

Gravatt was one of the agile sprinters on the court for the tag drills. She was elusive and nearly wiped out assistant coach Marley Murrow and a team manager, coming within several feet of them while running toward the edge of the court.

Others to keep an eye on include senior defender Grace Hendrickson, junior middle hitter Meadow Stull and senior middle Sadie Rayl.

Teams to beat in the Pioneer League include Wellsville and Anderson County, Ballou said.

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