As volleyball season ramps up for the coming school year, four local schools are chomping at the bit to get things going in what promises to be an exciting year on the courts.
Marcus, Flower Mound, Guyer and Argyle High School all look to contend for playoff spots this season, with three of the four programs making the post-season in 2009.
With district realignment and the loss of some players, each school will face its own unique challenges, but all four should give their fans a lot to cheer about in 2010.
School: Marcus Marauders
Last Season: Finished 30-17, tied for second in district 6-5A and advanced four rounds in the playoffs before losing to Amarillo.
Players to Watch: Liz Fortado, Katie Neisler, Mary Koehler, Lauren Douglass, Mallori Sando, Sarah Hula, and Bailey Bunting
Toughest District Opponents: Hebron, Allen
Outlook: Coach Cristie Liles said she is encouraged by what she has seen so far this off-season, and said her girls are raring to go for the 2010 campaign.
“We graduated one senior last year,” Liles said. “So I’ve got 13 returners coming back. We were in the regional finals last year and lost to Amarillo, so we’ve got some high expectations and strong goals for sure.”
Analysis: Marcus is a juggernaut in the realm of high school volleyball, and this year should be no exception.
The Marauders did lose Haley Neisler, last year’s district 6-5A Offensive Player of the Year, who is now at Sam Houston State, but have most of their firepower back.
“We are definitely hungry,” Liles said. “The girls are so focused. They have some strong goals, and that makes me really excited.”
School: Guyer Wildcats
Last Season: Finished with a 12-2 record last season in district 5-4A competition and advanced three rounds in the playoffs.
Players to Watch: Madison Walford, Silvia Nwiba, and Sarah Simpson
Toughest District Opponents: Coppell, Southlake Carroll, Keller Central and Northwest
Outlook: The Wildcats lost a number of players from last year’s playoff team, but coach Jennifer Bramlett said she is optimistic based on what she has seen so far.
“We have pretty much a whole new line up,” Bramlett said. “We graduated seven girls, and one of them was my four-year starting setter. I lost pretty much all of my starters and my libero, so we’re going to be young, but this group is going to be really hard-working.
“We’ve gotten so much better just from February until the end of July. I’m really pleased with how much effort they’ve put into it and how much better they’ve gotten. I would say that things are looking pretty good.”
Analysis: Guyer is going to have its work cut out for it in the larger district this season, especially having lost most of its team from last season, but Bramlett is confident that her team will compete.
“We’ve always played a really difficult schedule in the pre-season,” Bramlett said. “This season is no different. We are going to have to play every single match. If we can manage to play well every game without taking any games off, I think we are going to be right there where we want to be.”
School: Flower Mound Lady Jaguars
Last Season: Finished (25-15 (3-7) on the season competing in district 6-5A.
Players to Watch: Liz Theesfeld, Rachel Riley, Briana Allmon, Rebecca Green and Andi Adams
Toughest District Opponents: Hebron, Marcus, and Allen
Outlook: Flower Mound had a bit of a down year in 2009, but still finished with more than 20 wins and was in the playoff hunt almost until the end of the season.
Coach Marci Brinkman said, even with the move to 8-5A, she is confident her team will compete for a post-season berth in 2010.
“Things are looking really promising,” Brinkman said. “We have a lot of returners. We should have nine seniors this year. We’ve got a lot of strong players.
“We are used to a very strong district, and I believe that we are going to compete well. I think that the girls will be stronger mentally this year. They know what to expect.”
Analysis: Flower Mound returns three starters from last year’s team, and should be in pretty good shape for their new district.
The 3-7 showing last season was rather uncharacteristic for the Jags, and fans should not be surprised to see a third or fourth place finish in district 8-5A this season.
School: Argyle Lady Eagles
Last Season: Finished 29-13 on the season in district 9-3A and were the district runner up.
Players to Watch: Jennifer Speer, Sawyer Camillo, Samantha James, and Blaire O’Brien
Toughest District Opponents: Aubrey, Pilot Point
Outlook: Things are very bright for Argyle, who could prove to be the best team in the district this year if the program performs to expectations.
Coach Clark Oberle could not be reached for comment on this story.
Analysis: Argyle advanced four rounds in the post-season last year, and has a number of players returning that helped get them there.
The Eagles should rival for a district championship this season.