Volleyball to begin districts after competitive preseason

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Volleyball to begin districts after competitive preseason

Senior Madison Waters tips the ball over the net in a contest against Southlake Carroll last season.

Senior Madison Waters tips the ball over the net in a contest against Southlake Carroll last season.

Kelsey Carroll

Senior Madison Waters tips the ball over the net in a contest against Southlake Carroll last season.

Kelsey Carroll

Kelsey Carroll

Senior Madison Waters tips the ball over the net in a contest against Southlake Carroll last season.

Nick Smith, Editor-In-Chief

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The volleyball team (21-9) takes their first step on the road back to state tonight as they challenge the Mesquite Poteet Pirates (15-11) at home tonight at 5:30 p.m. for their first district match of the year.

Head coach Jason Nicholson said the Pirates will “by no means be a walk in the park” for the Leopards as they always play hard for their long tenured coach Lisa Lisewsky, who recently earned her 600 career win.

“It’s a team we should have some success against as they really struggled against our size and experience last year,” Nicholson said. “Lisa really motivates her players, but she just doesn’t have enough players who play as high level club volleyball outside of school like us and Highland Park do. It’ll definitely be a good test though to see if we’re ready to roll for our first home district game.”

The Leopards tied with the Highland Park Scots (14-16) for the district championship last year, but Nicholson said the team is looking to win the title this year without dropping a single set to any district opponent.

“Our district, competitively, is looking very similar to last year,” Nicholson said. “Highland Park graduated a lot but they’re still a great team that we have to make sure we have our heads on straight for. Forney is the same way and those should be the top three in our district in some order, but I feel like if we’re healthy we should be the frontrunner. We just gotta get Rachel [Langs] and Allie [Moger] back a hundred percent and that should assist us.”

The pre-district season has been an inconsistent ride for the Leopards with seniors Langs, Moger, and junior Mattie Boyd all missing important matches due to injury. Nicholson, as he has for the past few years, intentionally scheduled difficult competition against top ranked 6A and 5A teams before districts began.

While the Leopards collected impressive wins against Prosper (25-5), Coppell (20-3), and reigning 6A state champ Hebron (20-7), Nicholson said the team unfortunately could not split a win and loss with Southlake Carroll (25-4) and McKinney Boyd (13-7) as they expected to.

“Once school starts, I feel like that’s one of our hardest things to stay focused throughout an entire match,” Nicholson said. “Last few years we’ve lost to Southlake and Boyd to close out the preseason and that’s a combination of fatigue and school starting, but it’s also not like it’s an upset for those teams to beat us. We are kind of getting to the point where we want to move to the next phase, and luckily district begins Friday.”

Each year, the preseason marks a good learning period to play against tough programs at a competitive level similar to playoffs, but without the pressure.

“I definitely feel like we’ve learned how to compete, especially with our district not being at the level of play that we are used to,” senior captain Annabelle Archer said. “Our preseason helps us a lot to get ready for playoffs, especially in teaching us how to play at the level we want to.”

The volleyball program, which graduated six players last year including cornerstones Callie Holden and Bailey Downing who contributed to the last state title in 2014, now leans on its new starters, who senior captain Shanel Bramschreiber said “are doing very well and have really stepped up.”

“I think we need to establish a consistency though, which is something we really lost with players as good as Callie and Bailey,” Bramschreiber said.

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