Volleyball hopes to get back on track in district opener


Mandy Halbert

Taylor Carty practices bumping in the small gym in preparation for the district opener at home.

Nick Smith, Sports Editor

Following two recent losses to Southlake Carroll and McKinney Boyd, the volleyball team faces Mesquite Poteet at home tonight at 5:30 p.m. in their first district game of the season, and head coach Jason Nicholson hopes this game will help the team refocus from their current slump.

“District play will allow us to settle down a little bit and get our heads straight,” Nicholson said. “It’s the same thing every year where we have a great preseason before hitting a wall this time of the year, and district games provide competition without the pressure to help us get back on track.”

Nicholson described both Southlake Carroll and McKinney Boyd as powerhouse teams, boasting 16-3 and 25-4 records, respectively, provided stiff competition for the girls that he hopes the team will benefit from.

“We knew from a competitive standpoint that these games were going to be one of our bigger challenges and it would be good to see how we respond,” Nicholson said. “So later in the season when these bigger matches arise, whether its Highland Park in district or in playoffs, we know we are tough enough to fight through it.”

Looking at the new district this year, Nicholson sees Highland Park as the biggest threat to a  district championship while the new Mesquite teams, Poteet and West, and Forney teams, North and Forney High, should provide decent competition. As the team transitions into the next part of the season, senior captain Bailey Downing hopes to carry what the team learned in the previous games into district play and eventually playoffs.

“I think preseason was beneficial to us because it was high-level competition which helped us learn in difficult situations and find our strengths and weaknesses,” Downing said. “We need to improve our team chemistry and limit errors. We have a lot of talent this year but need to bring it all together. “

Senior captain Callie Holden agreed with Downing on taking pre-district lessons into district games to improve as a team.

“After our last games, we are feeling very determined to get in the gym and work even harder looking for redemption to prove ourselves going into district play and hopefully far during the preseason,” Holden said. “I think our chemistry is a big part of what we need to improve; we want to play more as a team rather than individually. Also we are working on improving our blocking and defense.”

With the decrease in competition compared to the earlier games this season, Holden sees tonight’s game as a chance to grow as a team without the pressure of a challenging opponent.

“Our district isn’t as tough this year so we have to work on our side of the net during games,” Holden said. “Even though they aren’t as challenging, we are going to attack the other team just the same and hopefully play as a team during the game.”