Jackson hitter Hannah Shinn named Southeast Missourian Volleyball Player of the Year

Jackson's Hannah Shinn (15) laughs with teammates Olivia Ward (17) and Madelyn Bourner (28) after a point in a two-set win against Cape Central on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Cape Girardeau.
Ben Matthews ~ Southeast Missourian

Shortly after being hired in 2017 as Jackson High School’s new varsity volleyball coach but before his first season with the Indians, Dave Mirly went to see the Tribe’s junior high team play. He saw an athletic 8th grader, Hannah Shinn, who possessed a great attitude. Mirly also saw something he thought he could fix about her game.

Fixing a technique

“There was a flaw in (Hannah’s) swing, and we had to break it,” said the third-year coach of the Indians. “It was clear to me that (Shinn) could be special.”

“I was swinging over my head (back then) and the ball kept going out,” Shinn said. “I was hooking the ball.”

She hooks it no longer.

Top honor for Jacksonian netter

Shinn, 17, a junior at JHS, is the 2019 Southeast Missourian Volleyball Player of the Year.

Shinn, along with senior Mackenzie Stoner, had eight kills in Jackson’s three-set win over Farmington in the Class 4, District 1 final. The third time in that contest proved a charm for the Indians. Twice before, in 2017 and 2018, Jackson reached the championship game with the Knightettes only to finish as runner-up.

In 2019, the Indians took the title from the defending champions in a thrilling three-set victory on October 30.

“We were mentally tougher this time,” said Mirly. “You could see it in our practices.”

“I think having gone (to the title game) before, having that experience, helped (calm) our nervousness,” said Shinn. “More of our girls had a taste of varsity (ball).”

Impressive stats

Shinn, a middle hitter, had 232 kills on the season, a .360 kill percentage, plus 66 blocks and 35 digs.

“I’ve hit a lot of girls in the face,” said Shinn, who says her coaches have helped her target her kill shots more effectively when she leaps at the net.

Mirly's success at JHS

Shinn’s arrival to varsity play coincided with Mirly’s first season at JHS, his alma mater. Mirly has helped build several programs in his career – spending a year each at New Madrid County Central and Chaffee and ten years at Perryville before coming home to Jackson.

In three years at JHS, Mirly has amassed a record of 81-27-7 (.758).

“We play more games in the summer than most teams do,” said Mirly, who will take a team losing only two seniors to graduation to summer camp in early June.

“We play about 80 sets – or 40 games – in the summer,” before practice for the season begins in earnest in August.

“Right before (Hannah’s) freshman season, a senior got hurt so she got to start the first two weeks,” said Mirly. “She has become a phenomenal player.”

Well-rounded scholar-athlete

Shinn is a top student academically and is a percussionist in the JHS band.

Bucking a growing trend of single sport specialization in high school, Shinn also plays basketball for Jackson under head coach Tyler Abernathy.

She has a clear preference for the net, however.

“I feel powerful when I hit the ball,” Shinn said, adding she is considering playing her preferred sport in college.

Future plans

If the 5-foot-10 Shinn has her druthers, she’d prefer to attend the University of Missouri-St. Louis and study optometry.

“I have shadowed Dr. (Kory) Thoma at Leet Eyecare,” Shinn said, “and on my bucket list is going on an overseas mission trip to provide optometry services.”

Looking ahead

MIrly is high on his district champion squad, which returns Shinn, also the SEMO Conference North Player of the Year, next fall.

“Anyone can see,” Mirly said, “that (Hannah) is the ‘Wow factor’ out on the court.

“(Shinn) has the potential to be the best hitter I’ve ever coached,” Mirly added.

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