Local schools begin practice Monday; season starts the following week
By Greg Ford
It’s the middle of summer, and in a few weeks signs of autumn will be in the air.
Perhaps not literally, but, still, there will be a few sights and sounds of fall in the air, although one won’t hear them outside. Rather, they will be emanating from gyms across the state as, once again, high school volleyball begins competition.
Locally, the four varsity programs will hit the floor during the first week of August, during which they’ll have a little more than seven days to get ready for their respective season openers.
Out of that quartet of schools, one, Sachse, will again be led by veteran head coach Rikki Jones, who has guided the Lady Mustangs to multiple playoff appearances. Another, Plano East, will be guided by second-year head coach Scott Sandel, and looks to rebound from a tough 2014 campaign.
In Wylie, both the Lady Pirate and Lady Raider programs will be under new leadership, with Sherry Olivares taking command of the former and Lisa Curry the latter.
A year ago, Sachse finished in a three-way tie with Rowlett and Rockwall, each at 12-2, for first in District 11-6A, with Sachse then defeating Killeen in the bi-district round before falling to Highland Park in the area-round contest.
Sachse will be loaded, on paper, as it returns a number of starters, including Erin Richburg, Casey Enna, Meaghan Jones, Skyler Friel, Cyera Hintzen, Delaney Price and Kaitlin Coffey.
The Lady Mustangs will host a pair of scrimmages Saturday, Aug. 7 against Bishop Lynch and Wylie before opening the season Tuesday, Aug. 11 at Rockwall Heath. The home opener is Thursday, Aug. 13 against Carthage, and the non-district season continues into September; Sachse opens at Lakeview Centennial Sept. 11 to begin 11-6A competition.
Plano East’s Scott Sandel is another returning coach, albeit in his second year.
In 2014, he and the Lady Panthers suffered through a 3-23 campaign that included an 0-16 District 6-6A record. A number of players, including many underclassmen, are back after surviving their trial by fire, so to speak.
“The bulk of our team is sophomores, but they played a lot last year,” Sandel said. “And they’re talented, too.”
Also back are a group of seniors and juniors with plenty of playing experience, with Sandel noting the former have done a solid job of assuming leadership roles.
East opens practice Aug. 3 with freshman tryouts at 8 a.m., followed by the junior varsity and varsity sessions two hours later.
“There are still some spots open,” Sandel said of the JV and varsity.
Sandel added, “We want to be able to play and run multiple combinations.”
The 2015 season tips off Monday. Aug. 10 at Hockaday, which will be the first of several road games. That includes the 6-6A opener on Aug. 25 at Flower Mound, which will be followed by the Sept. 1 home opener against cross-town and district rival Plano West.
Curry takes over a Wylie East program from Kelly Lyons, who directed the Lady Raiders to their second consecutive playoff appearance a year ago. They finished 7-7 and in fourth in District 10-5A before losing to Frisco Centennial in the first round.
Prior to coming to East. Curry spent six years at Naaman Forest, where she directed the Lady Rangers to a 7-7 record in 11-6A this past season. That earned them a playoff berth (fourth place), where they lost to Waco Midway in the first round.
East also begins practice Aug. 3, followed by a series of scrimmages the weekend of Aug. 7-8. The Lady Raiders open the 2015 season at L.V. Berkner High School in dual competition with Berkner and Irving Nimitz, which begins more than a month-long series of non-district matches and tournaments. The 10-5A season tips off Tuesday, Sept. 15 at home against Prosper.
Curry has been familiarizing herself with the Lady Raiders during the offseason, including the summer.
“The kids already should (start practice) in shape, I’m hoping,” she said.
They’ll need to be in condition to handle the new formations Curry plans to install, including quick offensive sets.
“It’s going to be a work in progress,” she noted.
The coach added, “I’m looking for some great things with our offense.”
Curry inherits a team with several returning veterans, including seniors Julia Pierson, along with Brittany and Ashley Fannin. That’ll help as the Lady Raiders transition into their new offenses and defenses.
“I am looking forward to a great season, and I think good things will happen here with the kids and me,” Curry said.
The Lady Pirates barely missed the postseason in Morgan Cook’s final year as head coach, taking fifth in 10-5A at 6-8, a game in back of East. Olivares takes over following three years running the North Mesquite program.
The first week will be used for player evaluation, and making sure everyone is in “volleyball shape,” the coach said.
Olivares has spent the offseason observing the Lady Pirates on-court performances, and anticipates they’ll both be “competitive and feisty” this coming season.
Following scrimmages at Sachse and at North Forney the weekend of Aug. 7-8, they’ll travel to Waxahachie for a season-opening meeting with the defending 14-5A champion Lady Indians.
Wylie’s home opener will be Tuesday, Aug. 18 against Frisco Liberty. The Lady Pirates’ 10-5A season tips off Friday, Sept. 11 at Lovejoy.