Hannah Keeling

Bears head coach Hannah Keeling moves between sets during a spring match against St. Louis.

After a disappointing end to the 2020-2021 season, the Missouri State Bears aim to change their culture after acquiring new head coach Hannah Keeling. 

MSU had a record of 4-1 against conference rivals last fall and spring, stamping the best program record for MVC play in the last 10 years. Seniors Ellie Burger and Claire Martin as well as graduate student Hana Sisirak won’t be returning to the team next season. Keeling shared their impact on the team and how it could be rubbed off on players in the future.

“Each of them brought something new and individually to the team,” Keeling said. “Ellie was our team captain and she was great at reinforcing what I wanted. Hana and Claire were just great examples and they really were the glue for the team, and the girls got along well. I have no doubt that when they’re gone the other girls will step up and do the same thing.” 

With three incoming freshmen and a yearning for upperclassmen, seniority is a concept that will be established for the new version of the team. Keeling said a mix between older and younger players is vital for a strong team environment. 

“Something that we want to add to the program would definitely be doing more stuff off court to bond,” Keeling said.

When her stint as assistant coach for Georgia Gwinnett College was mentioned, she also shared that bowling, dinner at her house and long distance rides would be ways the team would get closer. 

After making it to the conference championship last year, Freshman Tiffany Nash says that the squad is absolutely capable of taking the title this upcoming year. 

“I think we can really take the title if we zone in and focus,” Nash said. “We’ll do great if we capitalize on everything we did this season.” 

Keeling said belief would be the primary intangible the team possesses, and they look forward to showing it in the fall. 

“I always believed in them,” Keeling said. “Trying to make them believe to continue having that presence on and off the court is the biggest thing for me.” 

The team will take to the courts for a short season in the fall focused on individual improvement. Conference play will begin in Spring 2022 with the tournament slated to be held in April.

 

Follow Reginald Lee Jr. on Twitter, @ReginaldLeeJr16

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