Volleyball preparing to face district challenges


District champions last year are embarking on a new season Friday, Sept. 11.

Kevin Davis, Sports Editor

District volleyball play begins Friday, Sept. 11, against the Wylie Pirates at home at 5:30 p.m. Last year, the Leopards finished second in the district after a loss to the Prosper Eagles in a district championship.  

“I think we are fortunate into district play that we kind of get some hard ones, some easy ones, we can finagle the lineup a little bit, make some changes and get a feel,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson uses the beginning of district play as a tool to get a feel for the rest of the year. He experiments with different line-ups to know what is best when the postseason rolls around.

“The way we scheduled our tournaments in preseason, there wasn’t a lot of time to do that this part of the season,” Nicholson said. “So, hopefully when we get into district we will have some time to readjust, figure out where we are at, and make some personnel changes if needed.”

A couple of matchups stick out on the Leopards’ schedule. The McKinney Lions have already beaten the Leopards this year in predistrict play, and former district champions the Prosper Eagles look to be strong again this year.

“[McKinney] will be that team that nobody wants to play; they’re a little scrappy group. They already got us once,” Nicholson said. “Also, we obviously have a rivalry that’s built against Prosper in every sport, but volleyball specifically since we knocked them out of the playoffs last year, they beat us for district last year in our co-district championship playoff. I know their fans pack it in too.”

Rival and defending district champion, the Prosper Eagles, will be strong contenders again this year. The Eagles will return multiple key players from last year’s team. Last year’s district 10-5A MVP, Ashley Brown, will return for her senior year along with newcomer of the year Andie Miller.

McKinney will be another team to watch for this year in district play. The Lions finished with a 10-4 record last year in district play which earned them a third place finish. Former attacker of the year Claire Embry and defender of the year Ashley Robert will return for their senior and junior years.

The Wylie Pirates finished last year in fifth place in district 5A with a 6-8 record. The Pirates’ sole first team all-district player last year was senior Madison Helt. Second team all-district player Haley Sheffield will return to the Pirates to lead them in her junior year.

The Wylie East Raiders took a fourth place finish in district 10-5A in 2014. The team will look to improve their record this year with former first team all-district player Julie Pierson leading the way for the Raiders. Also, two of the Raiders second team all-district players will be returning to the team this year.

Last year, the McKinney North Bulldogs finished the year with 5-9 district record which landed them a 6th place finish in district 10-5a. Last season’s first team all-district recipient Kassidy Oberhelman will return for her senior year along with former second team all-district recipient Darby MacLea.  

Sherman and Denison finished the year in seventh and eighth place in the district last year. The Sherman Bearcats ended the year on a district record of 2-12 with both wins coming over the Denison Yellow Jackets who finished 0-14.