As a part of this summer/fall's coverage of Missouri volleyball, we will be profiling all of the Tigers leading up to and during the season. We'll start with the incoming freshman, then move to the members of the class of 2015, who will be sporting black and gold for one more season in Columbia.
First up, a freshman from down the road in Blue Springs, MO. Meet Alexa Armendariz:
Hometown: Blue Springs, MO
High School: Blue Springs South
Position: Defensive Specialist
From a young age, Alexa already had a connection with Missouri Volleyball. Her older sister, Priscilla, was a libero for the Kreklows from 2008-11, starting all 34 matches her senior year. She left Columbia with 130 career matches played in a Tigers uniform, pulling in 1,281 career digs, good for top 10 all-time at Mizzou.
Fast forward three years later, and now it's Alexa's time to shine at the Hearnes Center.
In her time at Blue Springs, Armendariz accumulated nearly 1,000 digs while averaging 4.5 digs per set and 9.2 digs per match. She was a four-time all-conference selection, three-time all-district nominee, and three-time defensive player of the year at Blue Springs. She had a career year in 2013, racking up 330 digs and averaging 5.4 per set, a record for both categories in a single season at BSSHS. She is ranked first, second, and third for most digs in a single season.
Aremendariz was also one of the most efficient when it came to service receiving for the Jaguars, cleanly receiving 1,000-plus serves in her career, with only 67 errors on those serves. That's a fantastic rate of around 94 percent. To top it all off, she was the first BSSHS volleyball player to ever be named to the AVCA All-America team, landing on the Honorable Mention list.
At Missouri, I don't expect she will see much time at libero in 2014 with senior Sarah Meister holding the spot right now and coming off a career year in 2013. However, with sophomore Loxley Keala moving to setter from defensive specialist, Armendariz could see time as the second defensive specialist on the court alongside sophomore Carly Kan. She'll have to beat out returning sophomores Courtney Meek and Lauren Steinhardt, who played a combined 16 sets in 2013 and will be gunning for Keala's spot as well.
With Lisa Henning and Molly Kreklow graduated, Missouri has to replace 545 digs on defense. If Alexa Armendariz sees significant playing time at DS, she could fill a solid chunk of that in her first year at Missouri. She was able to bring in double-digit kills in 25 games her senior year, with 20-plus on four of those occasions. Her consistency at libero for the Jaguars is what made her a successful defender and why she was voted to AVCA's All-America team. If she's given a shot early in her Tigers career, she could make a big impact on the Missouri defense.