Volleyball to square off against top district competitor

Head+coach+Jason+Nicholson+gives+instructions+to+senior+Lexie+Smith+during+Tuesday%27s+match.+Volleyball+will+play+Highland+Park+on+Friday%2C+projected+to+be+the+biggest+district+competition+for+the+Leopards+this+season.
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Volleyball to square off against top district competitor

Head coach Jason Nicholson gives instructions to senior Lexie Smith during Tuesday's match. Volleyball will play Highland Park on Friday, projected to be the biggest district competition for the Leopards this season.

Head coach Jason Nicholson gives instructions to senior Lexie Smith during Tuesday's match. Volleyball will play Highland Park on Friday, projected to be the biggest district competition for the Leopards this season.

Zoe Allison

Head coach Jason Nicholson gives instructions to senior Lexie Smith during Tuesday's match. Volleyball will play Highland Park on Friday, projected to be the biggest district competition for the Leopards this season.

Zoe Allison

Zoe Allison

Head coach Jason Nicholson gives instructions to senior Lexie Smith during Tuesday's match. Volleyball will play Highland Park on Friday, projected to be the biggest district competition for the Leopards this season.

Nick Smith, Sports Editor

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After winning their first two games of district, the volleyball team (23-4) is on the road tonight at 5:30 p.m. against Highland Park (21-6), who is also undefeated in district play and looks to provide the biggest obstacle to a district championship this year, head coach Jason Nicholson said.

“I think this will be our first and maybe our biggest test in district play,” Nicholson said. “[Highland Park] Coach Dearmen does a good job with his group and they’re in the playoff hunt every year, but I think this is a match we should win if we play our style and work to our height advantage.”

The volleyball team has faced Highland Park in preseason games for the past few years and Nicholson played the team in district games during his coaching tenure at JJ Pearce, so Nicholson said he knows what to expect from the new district opponent.

“They have a outside hitter that plays on the same club team as two of our players that can throw the ball around a little bit,” Nicholson said. “She’s their main go-to, but they also have quality players all around her. We just have to figure out to slow her down offensively, but hopefully our size will be a big help with that.”

Nicholson said the team will look to capitalize on Highland Park’s younger players and lack of size in order to stay on top of the district standings.

“Highland Park is pretty young this year and also lost a kid who decided to focus on track that was an important player,” Nicholson said. “They’ve also been using a freshman for one of their outside hitters so they have some youth on the team that may be a problem for them. They’re also not very big compared to us and I hope we can use that to our advantage.”

The volleyball team is currently 2-0 in district after sweeping both Mesquite Poteet on Friday and Forney on Tuesday in three sets each. The girls kept their opponent’s set points low in both games, not letting either team score more than 14 points in a set.

“Our last two district games were really only a challenge because it’s hard to stay focused in games where we are beating them so badly,” senior Lexie Smith said. “These games don’t help us improve that much so we try to keep focused and game-like in practice when we play each other. We’re really lucky because we have such a deep team to scrimmage our starters against our bench and still be equal in competitiveness.”

As the team plays deeper into the season, Nicholson said some players have shown themselves on the court in their skill and leadership, including junior Shanel Bramschreiber, who moved from Plano earlier this year.

“My parents decided to move into Lovejoy so they could have more land in order to raise animals,” Bramschreiber said. “I think I’m fitting in pretty well as I’ve gotten close with a few of my teammates, including Annabelle Archer, and Coach Nicholson has already made me a better player even if he can get a little loud sometimes, but I know it’s for the right reasons. In terms of districts, we are going to be successful this year because the other teams aren’t much of a challenge to us.”

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