Stephens volleyball looked like a well-oiled machine in its home opener Tuesday against Kansas Christian College. Heading into Tuesday's match, the Stars had only won two of their last eight sets. Against the Falcons, they won all three.

Stephens finished the game with a total of 22 aces, 15 coming from sophomore Megan Reese and five from sophomore Mollie Thompson. The Falcons were riddled with errors from start to finish, giving Stephens even more momentum throughout the sets.

In addition to a fiery performance on their serves, the Stars also shined in attack. The dynamic duo of sophomores Maggie Howe and Mya Middleton produced 19 of the 30 total kills for Stephens on Tuesday.

In the first two sets, the Stars capitalized on ten errors made by the Falcons, and they won 25-13 and 25-15, respectively. Cracks within Stephens' offense began to show in the final set. With such a young squad made up of only three upperclassmen and no seniors, closing games out has been a focal point for improvement for the team.

"Just finishing is something our assistant coach Nia Bell really wanted us to work on," Thompson said. "Finishing when you get to 20, really push the last five points to 25 ... and that's kind of part of being such a young team, figuring out that we've got to push until the game is over."

In only his third game as the new head coach, Devin Walker has implemented strength and conditioning  in an effort to promote growing together as such a young team. Some of that hard work showed Tuesday as the team squeaked by in the final set 25-22.

"This is my first month with them, so we're still cleaning up a lot of things," Walker said. "Our offense, though, really does need to improve. We've got to speed up and get more physical out there."

Stephens feels like a weight has been lifted off its shoulders by punching in its first win of the season. With a young squad and a new head coach, the Stars feel like they have something to prove. After last season's 4-23 record (1-11 AMC), they want to redeem themselves.

"Everyone thinks , 'Oh, Stephens athletics is bottom of the barrel,' you know," Walker said. "With our new athletics director Miguel (Paredes), and him hiring me, we're hoping to turn things around here."

At 6 p.m. on Friday, this young squad will face a familiar opponent, Freed-Hardeman, which defeated Stephens 3-1 last year. However, things may look different now that the Stars have some games under their belt this season, as opposed to the Lions, who will be playing in their season opener.

  • I am a sports reporter for the fall semester 2020 and I am currently studying sports journalism print and digital. You can reach me at shannonbelt@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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