Oct. 14—Coming off its first sub-state title since 2004 last year, Riverton volleyball has a chance to make more school history this fall.
The Rams (27-3-1, 4-0 in CNC play) are looking for their first conference title since 1991.
"Even though we have had other years where we have won a lot of matches, it's one of the years where we are competing consistently at a high-level," Riverton coach Becky Lipasek said. "We have put ourselves in position to achieve some goals we weren't able to do in the past."
The league title will be decided in the Ram's first contest in the Galena triangular against Frontenac (24-6, 4-0 CNC) at 6 p.m. next Tuesday.
Riverton is a youth-filled team with no seniors, four juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen on its roster. But serving has been the strongest asset of this year's squad.
The Rams have tallied 264 aces in 66 sets played this season. Juniors Jacy Thomasson and Morgan Compton lead the way with a combined 116 aces.
"We have developed into a really strong serving team," Lipasek said. "We have accumulated a lot of aces. We are getting it in probably five out of our six rotations. We are getting more aces than I anticipated at the beginning of the year and that is against all competition. Not just some of the smaller schools. We have been able to prove we can do that against some of the bigger schools as well."
Thomasson, the team's middle hitter, recorded her 1,000 career kill last month. She leads Riverton with a whopping 366 kills this season.
Lipasek said one of the biggest differences about the team this year is the emergence of outside hitters Elizabeth Wells and Alivia Parker, who have stepped up as sophomores.
Parker has 107 kills, while Wells has collected 96.
"Elizabeth is a 5-foot-11 lefty," Lipaesek said. "She is one of our most improved attackers. She would be over that if she didn't start off the season with an ankle sprain. She is second on our team in blocks and she has come along with her serving. She has picked up the pace with her serve.
"Alivia is only about 5-foot-4, but she is quicker than lightning. She jumps really well. We didn't expect as much out of them, but they have been able to increase their offensive production. Last year, we really relied on Jacy. But we have been able to find it in other places this year. Those two have really stepped up."
The Rams' new setter is Compton, who has handed out a team-high 566 assists.
"Morgan did a little bit of setting last year," Lipasek said. "She's stepped into the (primary) role, and she is a really athletic, quick setter for us."
Riverton competes in the McDonald County tournament in Anderson on Saturday. The Rams are set to face Diamond, McDonald County and East Newton.
"We were able to win that last year," Lipasek said. "Obviously, it's our last tournament as a team. We hope to use that to work on consistency, get those reps in before we go into our last week of the season. I think our last two tournaments last year in Neosho and McDonald County helped us as a team, playing some good competition. It was kind of a springboard for us going into the postseason."