Milestone Makers: SSU volleyball continues uptick

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PORTSMOUTH — Signs of consistency within the volleyball program at Shawnee State University have been evident from the time that Devan Spriggs took on the head coaching role.

This past season, however, was a further indicator that the Bears are on an upward trend.

In Spriggs’ fourth season as the head coach in 2023, the nearby Northwest High School alum — who played her collegiate volleyball at Shawnee State — led the SSU program to its second winning season in three years this past fall.

Through four seasons, Spriggs has led SSU to a 57-52 overall record.

Shawnee State went 38-97 in the four seasons prior to Spriggs taking over the reins.

Ending season on high note

After starting the season 8-8 over its first 16 matches, the Bears finished the year with strong momentum — winning eight out of its final 12 matches route to its 16-12 overall finish.

During that 8-4 stretch to finish the season, the Bears won five matches in a row from Oct. 14 to Oct. 21.

In their five straight wins, the Bears won 15 out of the 17 sets contested — in victories over Brescia (Ky.), University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis (Mo.), Ohio Christian University, Indiana University-Purdue University-Columbus, and Midway (Ky.).

Barney, Wamsley

earn 1st-Team all-RSC

Full of limitless potential, Kylee Barney and Haidyn Wamsley spent the 2023 season realizing their gifts on the volleyball court — and translated their gifts into spades.

Barney, who has notched 497 kills and 209 blocks (including 70 solo) for her career, has hit at least .216 or better in every season to date for the Bears.

Barney improved her hitting percentage by 113 points this season, and in doing so, hit a career-best .323 at the net — which was highest hitting percentage for any Shawnee State player in a single season since Carson Roney.

Roney hit for a .332 hitting percentage in 2017.

She hit above .300 in 17 out of Shawnee State’s 28 matches in 2023.

Wamsley, who has 519 kills and 167 blocks for her career (64 of those being solo), put the entire package together from a hitting standpoint, as after hitting .154 and .126 as a freshman and sophomore respectively, she dramatically improved to a .289 average on the frontline.

She hit .300 or better in 16 of the Bears’ 28 matches this season.

Their efforts gave SSU two first-team all-conference volleyball players for the first time since 2012.

Barney was a standout with Wheelersburg, while Wamsley was a three-sport star at Northwest.

Multi-sport athletes galore

Overall, the Shawnee State volleyball program had four different individuals participate in track and field — including Wamsley, Makenna Lovely, Makaela Lovely and Faith Kuhn.

Wamsley, the 2024 Shawnee State Female Athlete of the Year, translated her first-team all-RSC honors in volleyball into a NAIA National Qualifying high jump effort — which resulted in an 11th-place finish nationally.

Wamsley also won the River States Conference’s Indoor High Jump and Outdoor High Jump Championship — prior to competing in May’s NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships.

Makaela Lovely ultimately earned third-team all-RSC honors in the River States Conference’s Indoor Track and Field Championships in the high jump, while Makenna Lovely finished fourth in the outdoor 4-by-100 meter relay at the RSC’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Kuhn, meanwhile, set personal bests in the discus (84 feet, one inch), shot put (33 feet, six inches) and javelin throw (76 feet, seven inches) in each of her final three track and field meets of the year.

Standing out academically

To the surprise of no one, the Shawnee State volleyball program proved to be outstanding in the classroom — earning the SSU athletic department’s second-best team GPA en route to a 3.57 cumulative mark team-wide.

Ten out of Shawnee State’s 12 players finished the 2023-24 academic year with cumulative GPAs above 3.5.

Bethany Colling, who notched a 4.0 GPA, was named as Shawnee State’s representative to the River States Conference’s Champions of Character Team.

Additional

For more information on SSU Bears Athletics, please visit www.ssubears.com or visit the X, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages at https://twitter.com/SSUBears, https://www.facebook.com/SSUBears, https://www.instagram.com/ssubears/?hl=en, and/or https://www.youtube.com/@ssubearsathletics/videos.

For more information on how to join the SSU Bear Club, or for sponsorship of specific SSU student-athletes or events, please visit https://givetossu.com/bear-club and/or https://givetossu.com/sponsorthebears.

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