‘Dogs volleyball adds outside hitter

Redshirt sophomore defensive specialist Elle Renault anticipates an incoming ball. She is one of 15 returning players to Truman State University's volleyball roster this season.

The returning squad of Truman State University’s volleyball team is now preparing for next fall. One veteran that will not be there is senior outside hitter Jasmine Brown, so the program has added recruit Morgan Smith, to fill the void.

While Brown’s presence on the floor will be missed, head coach Ben Briney said the team is happy to have more returning players than new. Briney said the team will have a better opportunity to build team chemistry from last season and have better experience on the court with less turnover. Next year, the team will have 11 upperclassmen and three sophomores to support any new recruits.

“Everyone on the roster has playing experience, and that is going to translate into us being more comfortable in the big situations because we have been there before and know what to expect,” Briney said.

Because everyone on the roster has at least one season under their belts, Briney said they can help the recruit transition to the college level. With a veteran-loaded squad like Truman’s, he said Smith is going to get the hang of the ropes a lot quicker and mesh with the team better.

Smith helped St. Joseph’s Academy win a state title last fall. Smith was also a member of the Missouri High School Class 4 All-State team.

“We are looking forward to getting her on campus come August,” Briney said. “[Smith] has had some great training in both high school and with her club team, Rockwood Thunder, that will prepare her for the college level.”

Redshirt senior Holly Hildebrand was second on the team in blocks last season. The Bulldogs finished with a 17-15 record and were eliminated in the first round of the conference tournament.

Hildebrand said last season did not turn out the way the team members would have liked, but they found their groove toward the end of the season and started to make plays they were struggling with the beginning of the season. Hildebrand said it is this mindset and style of play the team wants to carry into next season, so it will have to leave anything negative behind and take what is positives with them.

“At the end of last year, we really found our identity,” Hildebrand said. “It was during those last few weeks that we decided we were a force to be reckoned with and that we won’t stop until everyone knows it.”

Hildebrand said the big focus this offseason is mental toughness. With so many returning players, she said the team will be able to build on this idea and help usher in the new recruit this fall. Hildebrand said she is looking forward to the new energy Smith will bring to the team.

The team will be holding scrimmages throughout the spring season, the first is April 6.