Nov. 13, 2013
SPRINGFIELD -- The Missouri State volleyball program received commitments Wednesday (Nov. 13) from six prep standouts, head coach Melissa Stokes announced. Lauren Boone, Brianne Dixon, Caroline Finnell, Lily Johnson, Mary Maerz and Lynsey Wright will join the Bears as freshmen for the 2014 season.
"This was a very important class for our program," Stokes said. "With the departure of such a large senior class, it was important for us to not only bring in talent, but talent that could contribute right away. Without question, the 2014 class ranks among our best in terms of the court, classroom and character. This class is one for Bears fans and alumni to get excited about!"
Lauren Boone • 6-1 • S • Branson, Mo. • Branson High
A four-year starter for coach Jenny Lotz at Branson High, Boone set a school record with 4.25 kills per set as a senior, hitting .307 for the year with 255 total kills. Boone also averaged 2.38 digs and 0.60 aces per set this season with multiple all-tournament and player of the week distinctions. As a junior, Boone was a first-team all-district and all-conference pick after hitting .315 for the year with averages of 2.46 kills and 0.68 aces per set. Boone was also a first-team all-conference selection as a freshman.
Coach Stokes on Boone:
"Lauren Boone is a player I had the opportunity to watch several times over the years. Lauren impressed me from day one. She loves the game, respects the game and always wants to be that player to find ways to be the best she can be. Lauren comes from a family of Bears and anytime I can get a player that bleeds Maroon and White, I know I am getting someone who will fight day in and day out for the Bears. We will look for Lauren to make an immediate impact in our setting department, however, with her size and athletic ability, she can also attack and block which will allow her a lot of versatility."
Brianne Dixon • 5-7 • DS • Springfield, Mo. • Kickapoo HS
A member of three Ozark Conference championship teams at Kickapoo High in Springfield, Dixon finished her three seasons on the varsity with 822 total digs and a 4.40 per set average. The defensive specialist also served up 63 aces for an average of 0.34 per set. Dixon scooped 298 digs as a sophomore, 254 as a junior and 270 as a senior, averaging as many as 4.58 per set during both her sophomore and senior seasons. She is a two-time academic all-conference first team member, and spent time the last two years with the USA Volleyball High Performance Program.
Coach Stokes on Dixon:
"Brianne Dixon grew up around our program. We have enjoyed the opportunity to work with her at camps and clinics over the years and couldn't be more excited to finally have her officially in our program. Brianne has dedicated herself to the sport, she plays with a lot of passion and has a ball in her hands any chance she gets. Brianne understands what it takes to be a great floor defensive player. Brianne will not only add depth, but will push and challenge day in and day out to make us better."
Caroline Finnell • 6-1 • MB/RS • Chesterfield, Mo. • Marquette HS
Finnell was a three-year varsity starter who earned second-team all-state recognition her junior season to go with first-team all-district, all-region and all-conference honors. She was also a first-team all-district and all-conference pick as a sophomore, earning team MVP honors. Marquette went 25-11 and advanced to the Missouri Class 4A semifinals her senior year. Finnell played in just 27 sets, but piled up 33 blocks for a 1.22 average, including four in the semifinal match with Ozark. She has participated in the USA Volleyball High Performance Program for three years, with her teams finishing third and fifth in the High Performance Championships.
Coach Stokes on Finnell:
"Caroline Finnell has the skill, strength and size which has allowed her to excel at the highest levels. I knew from the first time we were able to work with Carol in a camp setting that I wanted her to be a Bear. Carol has a great work ethic and is very teachable. She makes adjustments and adapts quickly. She has been asked to play a few different positions as well as fill a variety of rolls, depending on what teams have needed from her. With this experience, Carol will make a very smooth transition into the collegiate game."
Lily Johnson • 5-11 • OH • Wildwood, Mo. • Lafayette HS
A high school All-American and three-time state champion, Johnson's stats and awards speak for themselves. A six-rotation outside hitter for the last three seasons, recently finished another championship season with 353 kills (4.97/set) on .465 hitting and 56 aces (0.79/set) for the Lafayette Lancers. Several 2013 postseason honors have already rolled in, including an AVCA Under Armour Second-Team All-American nod as well as first-team all-state, all-metro, all-conference and all-region laurels. Johnson also earned All-America honors from Mizuno and PrepVolleyball following an outstanding junior season in which she led Lafayette with 257 kills, 261 digs and 51 aces while hitting .342. The Lancers went 40-0 in matches and 80-0 in sets that season for a No. 2 national ranking according to PrepVolleyball, with Johnson pulling down St. Louis Post Dispatch all-Metro Player of the Year honors in addition to first-team all-state, all-district, all-region, all-metro and all-conference accolades. Johnson amassed 329 kills for a 3.83 per set average as a sophomore, including 62 in the state tournament and a championship-match record 24 in the final. She was a second-team all-state pick that season, and is a two-time academic all-state pick as well.
Coach Stokes on Johnson:
"Lily Johnson is one of the best volleyball players in the country for the class of 2014. She is a true six-rotation player and has one of the best motors I have seen in a player her age. Everyone wants to play with her and not against her. Lily has an incredible volleyball IQ and she compliments that with great leadership abilities. She is fast, explosive, has a great arm and can take swings from anywhere on the floor. Her jump serve is equally impressive. Lily has worked very hard in the classroom, on the court and in the weight room to become the player she is today. I am excited for our program and fans to get to see Lily in action in a Bears uniform."
Mary Maerz • 6-0 • OH/RS • Springfield, Mo. • Central HS
Another in a long line of Springfield products to commit to the Bears in recent years, Maerz was a three-year starter for Molly Illum at Central High. Maerz led the Bulldogs to a 25-6 record as a junior, earning a first-team all-district nod after piling up 280 kills (4.18/set), 203 digs (3.03/set) and a .370 hitting percentage with a season-high of 23 kills. Maerz increased those numbers as a senior, hitting .436 to rank ninth in the state with averages of 5.44 kills and 3.90 digs per set as the Bulldogs finished the year 25-5.
Coach Stokes on Maerz:
"Mary Maerz is talented and one I believe will just take off and get better and better over the course of her career. She is one of the top attackers in the area and has proven she can be the go-to player for her teams. She impresses me more and more every time I see her play and yet I think she has only scratched the surface of what she can accomplish on the court. Mary can take swings from either pin and she has also had the opportunity to develop her back row game which will allow her to take swings from behind the 10-foot line as well."
Lynsey Wright • 6-0 • MB/OH • Glen Carbon, Ill. • Edwardsville HS
Wright helped the Edwardsville Tigers to a 122-39 record and several conference, district and regional championships during her career. As a senior, Wright averaged 2.89 kills and 0.79 blocks per set while serving up 105 aces for a 1.31 per set average on the way to first-team Southwestern Conference honors. Wright had 172 kills and 61 blocks for the 32-8 Tigers as a junior, and helped the club to a third-place state finish her freshman season. In addition to her exploits on the court, Wright has made the honor roll each year of high school.
Coach Stokes on Wright:
"Lynsey Wright reminds me of former Bears All-American Linette White. A great jump, a fast arm, quick lateral speed and a love for the game to always want to be her best. Lynsey has an explosive jump serve and can score from any position on the floor. She comes to Missouri State with high-level club experience and training and although she is already good, I think her ceiling is very high. She is bright, driven and I couldn't be more excited to have Lynsey make an immediate impact on our program in 2014."