Thursday, September 28, 2023

Local high school volleyball teams ready to attack the court

As volleyball season hovers on the near horizon, the programs of southern Denton County are gearing up for what promises to be another great year on the courts.

Six local programs qualified for the postseason in 2021, and this season looks to be equally strong, if not better.

The Marcus volleyball team wrapped up 2021 with a 31-8 overall record and trip to the regional round of the playoffs.

Coach Lindsey Petzold will take the helm for the Lady Marauders this coming season, and having just been hired in June, said she is still evaluating things.

“I think we have a ton of potential, but will need several players to step up and fill big shoes left by the 10 graduating seniors,” Petzold said. “We are going to compete at a high level every day, and we have a lot of pre-district matches to be able to figure out who our starters are, what our strengths are, and how we can continue to get better.

“We are no doubt going to compete for a playoff spot in one of the best districts in the state, but in our district, that means playing at a high level every single match.”

Key returners for the Lady Marauders include Maggie Cox, Lexi Godbey, Aubrey Bellus and Rachel Sturton.

Petzold said there will be a few changes this year, which mainly revolve around personnel placement.

“We will have several new faces on the court this season,” Petzold said. “I am hoping to speed up our outside offense and distribute the ball more.  We have the potential to possibly run a 5-1, but we will use our pre-district matches to figure this out.”

Petzold said several factors will go into whether or not Marcus has a successful season in 2022.

“To make the playoffs, we will have to be consistent every time we step on the court,” Petzold said. “We will have to find ways to score against big blocking teams and be really good at serve and pass.  We will face very solid teams, so that means staying the course through matches by finding a way to score even when things aren’t going our way.  We will need our hitters to step up and play big.”

Over at Flower Mound, coach Jamie Siegel said she is optimistic about 2022 as well.

“I’m excited about this upcoming season,” Siegel said. “It is going to be a fun one.”

Siegel is expecting her impact players to be Cat Young, Bri Watson, Audrey Jackson, Caroline Tredwell and Liz Goodspeed this year.

Flower Mound lost in the bi-district round last season and will be without the services of Bella Ortiz, Elaina Amador, Gabby Walker, Megan Farris, Avery Miller and McKenzie Schultz.

But Siegel said that sort of thing is to be expected.

“Every year you lose a group to graduation…and these young ladies left their mark on the program,” Siegel said. “This year’s team will be a different style with the personnel we will have.”

Siegel said her district is once again one of the most competitive in the state, and said to improve upon last season’s effort, it will take the right mentality.

“It’s going to take a never-settle attitude, and we’ll have to work for everything,” Siegel said.

Over in Denton, Guyer volleyball coach Leslie Jackson said her team is looking to claim another district championship in 2022, as the Lady Wildcats won the 5-6A title this past season.

“We have a great group of girls returning for the upcoming season,” Jackson said. “They have done a great job this offseason working and growing together. We are looking forward to continuing to get better every day we step in the gym.”

Jackson said she is expecting big years from a number of players, including Kyndal Stowers, Lauren Schneider, Ava Houser, and Jordyn Tynsky.

“We lost a great group of seniors, but we have some great upcoming athletes that are hungry and ready to compete,” Jackson said.

Guyer finished 21-11 last season and return five starters, and Jackson is hopeful about her teams’ chances in 2022.

“Anything is possible in volleyball,” Jackson said. “We are focused on Guyer volleyball and getting better every day in order to be the best, most competitive team we can be.”

Down the road in Justin, the Northwest volleyball team reached the regional round last season, and coach Jennifer Chandler said she believes her team is capable of even more this season.

“Our players have worked so hard in the offseason to prepare for the fall,” Chandler said. “Our senior leadership has been strong and inclusive of our younger athletes. We have some huge pieces returning that have done an exceptional job of setting the standard for our program with their character and integrity.

We focused on development of our outside hitting group because we graduated three outside hitters last season. We also spent a large portion working on our serve receive because we graduated our libero as well.”

And Chandler gets back a wealth of talent as well.

“We return both our middle blockers, Lydia Seymour and Hannah Clear, which are three and four year varsity starters,” Chandler said. “Both are committed to play at the next level and have been intentional with their positive energy and leadership throughout their career. We return a four year varsity starter at setter, Sophie Chambers, who was huge for us last year as an added block and generating offense for us as a hitter too.

We have a talented utility player, Madison Scrivner, that can play outside hitter as well as set for us, so it will be fun to see where her versatility suits our team best.”

Chandler expects Azle and Aledo to be among Northwest’s more difficult opponents this season, and said to make another long run in the playoffs, Northwest will need to focus on three areas.

“It will take passing well in receive to get the ball to our experienced hitters in the middle and right side, to be aggressive defensively to be able to transition score from our middles and right side, and then allowing our outside hitter to develop and finding the right combination for our team,” Chandler said. “I expect this team to have great chemistry because this group has shown it’s identity to be selfless and team-first. They are so much fun as people first, but really fun to coach.”

For Coram Deo Academy, the 2022 volleyball season will see some new faces in addition to veterans.

“I am new to CDA this season and very excited about our program this year,” coach Jeff Cornell said. “I believe we will be competitive with an opportunity to make some noise in the playoffs.”

Cornell will try to do so with such stand out players as Jordan Juergens, Maddie Murphy, Nicole Rhone and Lauren Joseph.

Cornell anticipates that Grapevine Faith and Legacy Christian should both be formidable in 2021 and said that his approach to coaching this year’s team is three-pronged.

“This season will be very defensive focused with strong blocking and scrappy play,” Cornell said.

To capture one of the four playoff spots in district this season, Cornell said his team will have to bond.

“We need to stay healthy and really gel as a unit,” Cornell said. “We have a lot of new parts (including the coaching) this season, so chemistry will be key.”

In Argyle, the Lady Eagles finished 31-13 overall with a 9-3 district record in 2021, which was good enough for second place in 7-4A competition.

Argyle returns last year’s district Newcomer of the Year in Katherine Holtman as well as first-team all-district selection Camryn Heiser to help lead the way.

The Lady Eagles defeated FW Dunbar, Brownwood, Stephenville and Dumas to reach the regional finals last year before coming up short against Decatur.

Over at Liberty Christian School, the Lady Warriors will be moving to TAPPS 5A this season, and coach Madyson Hillis said LCS will have its work cut out.

“With us losing four talented seniors last season, our girls know that there are big shoes to fill,” Hillis said. “We have many new things going on this season, but we are feeling confident that we can still take care of business.”

Strong returning players for the Lady Warriors this year include Reagan Fifer, Quinlan Denney, Tori Garrett, Quinnly Heinsen and Naya Salfiti.

“All five of these girls have been working extremely hard in their off season,” Hillis said. “Many of them had successful club seasons and have been spending their summer in the gym.”

Liberty Christian finished undefeated in district for the fourth straight season in 2021, reaching the state semi-finals before losing to Prestonwood Christian Academy.

Hillis said she believes LCS is in for another good showing in 2022.

“I believe that if we can improve upon what we know our struggles are early in the season, our chances of going to the playoffs and having a successful post season are high,” Hillis said. “We must come in with a good mindset to get better every day, capitalize on strengths and know our opponents’ weaknesses.”

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