Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Redhawks volleyball team look to defend OVC title

Thursday, August 25, 2022
Colby Greene (left) gets set to go up for a kill during a match at Houck Fieldhouse in Cape Girardeau in 2021.
Southeast Arrow File

The Redhawks volleyball team were not only the Ohio Valley Conference Champions last season but the Ohio Valley Tournament Champions as well. The Redhawks are looking to continue that success into 2022.

Being crowned both regular season and tournament champs marks the tenth and seventh time respectively that the Redhawks have accomplished that feat. With that being said a couple of key pieces from that team have departed. Outside hitter Laney Malloy graduated and setter Claire Ochs transferred to Jacksonville State University.

Redhawks head coach Julie Yankus expects it to be a team effort to fill the void left behind by Malloy and Ochs.

“We have to pull together as a unit. Volleyball is a very team oriented sport,” Yankus said. “Three people touch the ball every time it comes on our side, and we can't control where the other team hits it so it's definitely gonna be a team effort.”

Three Redhawks were tabbed to the 2022 preseason All-OVC Team. Graduate student right side hitter Colby Greene, senior libero Tara Beilsmith and senior outside hitter Zoey Beasley. For Greene, who made the 2021 All-OVC Tournament team, both the anticipation and expectations are high for the upcoming season.

“I think we have some really high expectations for our team this season,” Greene said. “We've all been working really hard and we're competitive. So we're excited to see it all put together.”

Beilsmith, who was named to the 2021 All-OVC second team, stressed the importance of playing as a team during the upcoming season.

“I think really our most important expectation is just have a successful and cohesive season and just be able to come together as a core and play for each other,” Beilsmith said.

On Wednesday, Yankus announced the captains for the 2022 Redhawks volleyball team. Senior middle blocker Talia Gouard along with Beasley, Greene and Beilsmith will take on the role for this season. Yankus is looking to these players to bring experience and leadership to the 2022 team.

“We've got a lot of returning experience as well and all conference performers in Colby Greene and Tara Beilsmith and Zoey Beasley so I believe those three are going to step up on the court for us,” Yankus said. “We've got a lot of other experience coming back that may not have been on the court as much but they have been a part of the program and we expect them to step up as well.”

The Redhawks are scheduled to play in four tournaments, twelve total games, before they open up conference play vs Tennessee state on September 23. Beilsmith hopes the team can use the tournaments to focus on little adjustments and playing together as a team.

“Our coaches never make our preseason easy. So I think it's just trying to get some good competition in before we have to really focus down and get some wins on our record for conference play,” Beilsmith said. “I think it's just kind of getting used to being in the gym together and playing a different team again and like we're all working together now, not against each other like we are in practice.”

They will also play three new teams as part of their conference schedule this year in Lindenwood University, University of Arkansas Little Rock and Southern Indiana University. Yankus does not know what to expect quite yet out of these programs.

“It's really unexpected as to what they're gonna look like, but they have great programs, even though they were Division II it does not matter,” Yankus said. “They have great programs, great facilities, great campuses and great cities that they're in so if they don't compete right away they will be competing at our level very quickly. I'm excited to see what new rivalries develop and see how everything falls this year.”

The Redhawks open their season hosting the SEMO Invitational on August 26. With the first match starting at 12:30 at Houck Field House.