The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

March 25, 2014

Joplin's Rader signs to play volleyball at Highland

Leah Rader of Joplin High School signed a letter of intent Tuesday to play volleyball with Highland (Kan.) Community College.

Rader, who played middle hitter as a senior, was a first team all-Ozark Conference selection last fall. Highland, coached by Diana Gaddis, competes in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference.

“I’ve been playing so long, I can’t go a day without it,” Rader said. “Everything that Coach Gaddis offered me just sold me. All the girls were nice to me, and I want to be a part of that.”

Staci Saunders, head volleyball coach at Joplin for the last three seasons, remembers her first impressions when she saw Rader.

“She can jump,” Saunders said. “She’s very versatile and agile. Last year, she played outside. This year, she played inside. She has a very strong work ethic. She brings that and her sense of humor to practice every day.”

Rader will finish her high school athletic career this spring with her third season of varsity track. She will run the anchor leg of the 4x100-meter and 4x200 relays, the first leg of the 4x400 relay and the open 400, said assistant track coach Jeni Vieselmeyer.

Joplin’s 4x200 relay qualified for the Class 4 sectional meet last spring with a second-place finish in the district meet. This will be Rader’s second season as a team captain.

Gaddis has been Highland’s head coach for two years. She was an assistant coach just across the Missouri River at Missouri Western for two years and was a high school assistant coach at St. Joseph Central for one season. She was a four-year starter at Morehead State in Morehead, Ky.

Rader said one of the highlights of her high school career was Joplin’s victory in the championship match of the Carl Junction Classic volleyball tournament. Rader was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

“The Carl Junction Tournament was a big deal for us, especially my senior year,” she said. “I wanted to show them what we could do.”

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