Houston graduate Ashley Kell has thrived this season as MSU's starting setter.

Ashley Kell was thrown into the fire last season, when she made two emergency starts in place of injured setter Katelyn Panzau.

Now, the Houston graduate and senior setter on the Missouri State volleyball team has embraced the role of seasoned veteran and is teaching freshman Julia Cawthra the ropes.

“It’s just about coming to terms with your ability,” Kell said. “When you recognize that, and it comes as you get older, you see yourself grow. I mean, I can’t tell you how far I’ve come since I got here.”

The 5-foot-9 Kell has started all but one match for the Bears and is averaging 8.10 assists per game.

“It’s the most important position,” Bears coach Melissa Stoke said. “As good as your setter is is as good as your team is going to be. They touch every second ball, and they dictate the offense.”

Stokes said Cawthra, who played both setter and right-side hitter in high school, is the better blocker of the two.

But Kell’s experience gives her an air of confidence on the court.

“You’re the only person on the floor besides maybe your libero that touches the ball every play,” Kell said. “It just helps (your teammates) out knowing they have someone there who will do their job.”

– Springfield News-Leader

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