Aug. 11—Missouri Western Volleyball will compete in the Rockhurst Classic on Aug. 26-27, where the Griffons will face Minnesota State-Mankato, Black Hills State, Hillsdale College and Rockhurst University.
This season, the Griffons will have a new face at the helm in head coach Jessica Fey. She was announced head coach of the volleyball program back in Jan., replacing Marian Carbin who served nearly two decades with the program.
Luckily, Fey won't have to watch hours upon hours of MIAA competition. She used to compete in the MIAA, having played and been an assistant for Washburn University. She is one of 10 Ichabods to record over 1,000 kills and 300 blocks in a career, while being a part of two MIAA championship teams.
"Coming back to this level and just this conference, and the familiarity of it was just phenomenal," Fey said. "it's one of the best conferences in Division II. Definitely one of the best regions in Division II, and ultimately being a part of this conference means you're part of the best."
Although new to the Griffons, Fey is no stranger to leading a team. She took over the Western Colorado program back in 2018.
While at Western Colorado, she increased the team's winning percentage in each of her four years at the helm. In 2021, she led the Mountaineers to a 13-14 record, the program's third-highest single-season wins total in nearly two decades.
Being in a competitive conference like the MIAA, Fey learned one important thing as a head coach.
"A lot of it is in the recruiting aspect of the game, just knowing what level you have to recruit to and who's going to be able to be successful in your conference," Fey said. "But the mentality of it, you have to show up every night, but it's really exciting to go out there and find kids that are excited to be a part of this program."
She was thrown into a rough situation at Western Colorado, as the team won just two matches the season before her arrival. Learning how to recruit and develop the Mountaineers, she believes that can be crucial to the Griffon's success.
"We didn't have great players. We had to go recruit them, we had to develop them, we had to make them... we have a good combination of kids that are experienced and inexperienced in the Missouri Western program," Fey said. "So I'll be able to take a little bit of what I was able to do at Washburn, but also what I developed at Western Colorado."
Luckily, the Griffons don't need to rebuild, as they're coming off a season with a record of 14-16. They also have some athletes they believe can lead them down the right path.
Western comes in with experience, which could be their strongest asset heading into the season, especially after losing highly accoladed Ali Tauchen. The team features eight upperclassmen, which will be looked upon more to help propel the Griffons to where they want to go.
"Karly Tharp has done a nice job for us. She had a lot of playing time last year, so I'm expecting her to kind of step up and take some big swings for us," Fey said. "Then Jessica Hendrix will be on the right side and she'll do a nice job. She's got a good swing over. Then we have Danielle Moje as well, who was an All-Conference kid last year, took a lot of swings in the middle"
Working with this team in the off-season, Fey is seeing positive things from her new team as the season approaches
"We're all about work ethic, working together and having great team chemistry. We truly do have a fantastic group of women," Fey said. "They really care about the outcome, care about the process and care about each other, so no matter what the outcome of the game is, I think you're still going to see great volleyball."
Calvin Silvers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.