When Marissa Jeffrey runs onto the volleyball court to face Hickman on Saturday, she will be staring down familiar opponents. The Rock Bridge defensive specialist has played club volleyball on the Columbia Vipers with six of the Kewpies since middle school.
“I’ve played with pretty much their entire starting lineup,” Jeffrey said.
Jeffrey, a senior, said her experience playing with the Kewpies might help the Bruins on Saturday because she is able to share information about many of Hickman’s key players.
One thing Jeffrey told her teammates about is the improvement of Hickman junior Jenny Keener.
“She learned how to run a lot of quick sets, and they’ve been running a lot of those this year,” she said. “Our team (Rock Bridge) has watched them play a few times but it’s different when you’ve played with them for so long.”Jeffrey said she thinks Hickman doesn’t have the same opportunity to scout.
“They are kind of at a disadvantage because I’m one of six, whereas I can scout almost their entire team,” she said.
Jeffrey said she enjoys playing against her Viper teammates during the high school season.
“I miss (the players on) our competitive team, and it will be fun but more personal and emotional to play against them,” she said.
Senior Krystal Stone, Hickman’s starting setter, has played with Jeffrey on the Vipers since seventh grade.
“It’s always fun playing with Marissa,” Stone said. “But I like beating her, too.”
Jeffrey says the game against her teammates will mean a little more.
“We know each other really well and we try as hard as we can to beat each other,” she said. “Since the competitive season is longer than the school season I play with them for longer than I do against them; therefore we know how each other plays.”
Rock Bridge coach Beth Newton, who founded the Vipers in 1999 and was an assistant on Hickman last year, has extensive knowledge of Kewpies that she hopes to translate into a victory.
“I’ve coached them for a long time so maybe our team will be able to take advantage of the little things I’ve picked up on,” she said.
Stone said Newton’s knowledge of her team will add a challenge to the game.
“Beth Newton knows all the weaknesses of our team. We are going to have to play a whole lot harder,” she said.
Hickman middle blocker Kendra Williams said she tries not to look too much into what happened during club ball.
“You never know what could have changed between the Vipers’ season and now,” she said.
Jeffrey said that come game time, she will try to put aside the friendships and club ball allegiances and play the best game possible.
“I’m just going to ignore personal ties for about an hour and a half and be aggressive as I can,” she said.