Springdale Har-Ber coach Shyrah Schisler graduated 12 players from a strong senior class after last season’s state finals run – a hit that could set some programs back.
Schisler doesn’t believe that to be the case with hers.
Har-Ber won 29 matches last season by mid-October and finished with a school-record 32 in 2016 before falling to Fayetteville in the state finals. Schisler’s previous two teams set the bar high, but the coach says this group has the same expectations for itself as play opens tonight.
“I think we have young personnel, but personnel that has the same (goals),” Schisler said. “People will say I lost a lot of seniors, but I’ll say, ‘Yeah, but I gained a a bunch of people who were ready to play last year that didn’t play.
“I feel like a lot of those kids were prepared and ready for their opportunity.”
Junior Jayci Carpenter played in state tournament matches last season and is expected to have a big year, as well as junior Molly Kingston. Halle Roberts and Tori Sugg played junior varsity in 2016, but were prepared at times to play up, Schisler said.
Schisler added that a handful of sophomores – Natalie Williams, Mackenzie White, Trinity Sharp, Kyler Greenlee – will have an impact. Senior Kaitlyn Schemel, who played as a sophomore, is back for her senior season. Schemel has great court awareness and become a leader, Schisler said.
Lauren Thompson, one of just four seniors, was a key part of Har-Ber’s 2016 run and will be again this fall. She returns after leading the team with 452 kills as a junior. Schisler is excited about her senior class.
“My senior group is exceptional,” she said. “I only have four this year, but they were a huge part of our leadership last year, and to have those four back and all on the same page is really cool. I’m thrilled about that group.”
Har-Ber opens its season tonight at Wildcat Arena against Webb City (Mo.) and hosts against Carl Junction (Mo.) Thursday prior to the Bentonville Early Bird Tournament this weekend.