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(Red Oak) -- Abbey Jones’ move from setter to her natural position helped Red Oak to many successes in the 2020 volleyball season.

The Tigers senior libero stabilized and solidified a rotation that was hampered with graduation. For her success, the Tigers success and much more, Jones is this year’s KMAland Volleyball Defensive Player of the Year.

“Everybody worked super hard (this year),” Jones said. “That pushed me to do my best, and we made the most of it, for sure.”

Red Oak shared the Hawkeye Ten Conference championship with fellow state qualifier Glenwood this season, posting a 30-5 record. Jones’ defense was at the forefront, as she averaged 5.4 digs per set – fourth among KMAland athletes eligible for this award.

Of course, following last season, Jones would have been more likely to be the area’s top setter. However, a move to libero paid off for all parties.

“I’ve always played libero through club and my whole life,” Jones said. “My sophomore season, we kind of just needed a setter. I wanted to be on the court as much as everyone else so I made the change.”

Jones and Coach Angie Montgomery had a conversation this past summer about her moving back to libero – her natural position.

“We just talked about no position being set and everybody had to work,” Jones said. “She kind of just let me decide what I wanted to do. She knew I wanted to be a libero, and she told me if I was willing to work for libero it was all mine. I just worked and tried to be the loudest player on the court and worked hard to make the most of it.”

Jones was at her best earlier this season in a four-set win over Harlan, posting a team-high and career-high 32 digs during the win.

“Serve receive is the biggest part of volleyball to me,” she added. “You’ve got to have that pass to get that set to the hitter to put it down. Getting a huge dig or seeing that person fly across the court to get that touch and have the crowd go crazy is one of the biggest things in volleyball. Doing it is awesome.”

And nobody – in our estimation – did it better than Jones, who is the fourth libero to win the KMAland Defensive Player of the Year. Listen to the complete interview with Jones linked below.

PREVIOUS KMALAND DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR WINNERS

2019: Kelsey Hobbie, Sidney

2018: Jaden Daffer, Sidney

2017: Kalee Peter, Kuemper Catholic

2016: Alyssa Baatz, Tri-Center

2015: Jordyn Moser, Harlan

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