GAINESVILLE, Mo. -Gyms and fields all across the state are filled with high school athletes as they are wrapping up their first week of practice for fall sports. It has been nearly 30 years since volleyball players have taken the court in Ozark County, Missouri, but now the sport is back.
Calli VanRanken is Head Volleyball Coach at Gainesville High School. It’s her first year. It’s also the first year of high school volleyball for all of her players.
“I think it was kind of a culture shock at first,” VanRanken said. “Like I said, some hadn’t played sports. Conditioning was an eye opener.”
“The girls fought for this,” explained VanRanken, “I’m super excited for them and very blessed to be the coach leading them.”
The Lady Bulldogs have one senior, Brooklyn Bushong. She was one of the girls working to bring the sport back. “I was super excited this year when I found out they were,” she said.
Gainesville isn’t the only school to be playing volleyball for the first time in a long while. Dora and Bakersfield will also be hitting the court.
“We’re definitely on the same playing field,” said VanRanken. “We had a scrimmage this summer with Dora and Bakersfield. It was nice meeting those other coaches. We were kind of jittery and nervous and so were the girls.”
The new programs help to ease Brooklyn’s nerves too. “On our schedule, I have seen a couple of teams that I know have been playing volleyball for a couple of years, which makes me a little nervous. But I think we will be fine,” she said.
Gainesville will officially take the court for the first time on August 19, 2022, at the Mansfield Jamboree. The team is still searching for games to fill their schedule.