11.17.21 VBall file

Ibarguen and Junior Azyah Green jump to block an incoming spike. The Lady Bears won 3-0 against the Saint Louis Billikens.

Almost two weeks removed from the issuing of several penalties from the NCAA, the Missouri State Bears volleyball team looks to complete this regular season and continue to build their team with second-season head coach Steven McRoberts. 

The ball club faces a one-year postseason suspension, leaving the Bears ineligible to compete in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament later this month. Last season MSU finished with a 15-7 overall record, as well as the second place in the MVC behind Illinois State, going 11-5. 

Hired back in February 2020, McRoberts said he was aware of the situation and how the actions of former head coach Melissa Stokes would potentially affect his current tenure and aspirations for the Bears. 

“We talked about it during the hiring process, and of course you never know what the NCAA is going to do,” McRoberts said in a postgame interview this past Friday after beating Southern Illinois. “To say we were prepared for whatever they gave us would not be a true statement. I wasn’t thinking that we would lose the postseason. They have to give penalties here and there, but I had no idea it would be a postseason thing.” 

It’s been over two years since Spencer Fane LLP (a firm hired by Missouri State) started to conduct an independent investigation into the NCAA compliance violation allegations. Now there are only three players on the active roster who competed on the team while Stokes was still with MSU. Senior right side hitter Alyssa Doucette, outside hitter Amelia Flynn (senior) and setter Emelie Orlando (senior) were all freshmen who are now mainstays in the Bears’ lineup. 

In the postgame interview, McRoberts also mentioned the topic of enforced penalties rarely came up as the MSU athletes spoke to investigators. He said not having the opportunity to even compete for a postseason berth stings the most for them.

Breaking their seven-game losing streak this past weekend in a sweeping effort, MSU has two more games before the end of their season coming up against the Indiana State Sycamores and Evansville Aces Nov. 19 and 20. 

Last Wednesday, the program also announced that they are receiving two freshman commitments for the 2022 roster: Lucca Dunser and Jaycee Fixsen. The two are 5’11 and both were four-year starters for their respective high schools. McRoberts wants to use the older and newer pieces of the Bears to reestablish their name atop the MVC. 

“We hope all of our incoming commitments and signees will help get the program back to hanging banners,” McRoberts said. “We’re disappointed in the season that we’ve had. It’s not the standard for this program, and we’re going to work hard to get it back to championship caliber.” 

          

Follow Reginald Lee Jr. on Twitter, @ReginaldLeeJr16

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