Lady Cats eager to get started
If it had been up to the Lady Bearcats, they probably would have liked to have been back to work as soon as possible.
The sour taste of a poor season can be wiped out with a variety of remedies and all of them work to varying degrees. There was copious amounts of work in the off-season, when the rules allowed it. There was a focus on the future and the new faces which would help the program try to move forward. And, of course, there was putting it in the past and keeping it there, a forgotten relic never to be spoken of again.
All of those methods have helped in some part as Sherman opens its volleyball season at Royse City on Tuesday night.
“I’m excited. I like this group of kids,” Sherman head coach Chelsea Beal said. “I think Year 2 will be a bit more relaxed. The girls and I know each other better. They know what I want for the program.”
Because of the University Interscholastic League’s decision to push back the start of the season for Class 5A and 6A programs due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Lady Bearcats had to wait a little more than a month — Sept. 7 — to begin practicing. Now the regular season will go until almost Thanksgiving as opposed to the point where the season should normally becoming to an end at the state tournament.
“With all of the changes this year, we have to go with the flow,” Beal said. “We’re ready to start playing.”
Under normal circumstances, the Lady Bearcats would be in district play. And the spectre of last season would be nearly two dozen matches in the rear-view mirror.
It was a tough 2019 for Sherman, which started its schedule with seven defeats and ended on a 13-game losing streak as part of a 5-36 season and an 0-10 mark in district play. The quest for a third straight playoff berth, which would have been the longest by the program since four consecutive trips from 2002-05, never really got off the ground.
“We need to learn from last year but we aren’t going to dwell on it,” Beal said. “Every single team is different. The mindset this year is different. The talent is different. The competitive mindset is different.
“We are living in the present. They’re moving forward to what we’re going to do this year.”
Putting those struggles behind them is the new goal.
“The seniors and juniors are really stepping up to the plate,” Beal said. “A lot of the returners are going to be on the floor.”
The rotation did lose some key pieces — outside hitter Kylie Jackman was second-team all-district while libero Jazmyne Aguilar and outside hitter Avery Charske were honorable mention all-district selections — out of the seven Lady Bearcats who graduated.
Junior setter Samantha Graham is running the offense for the third straight year and was a first-team all-district selection after being named second-team all-district as a freshman.
“Sam’s going to be a huge asset for us this year setting and also swinging it,” Beal said. “We need to get out of the mindset of being able to only do one thing so we have them working at other spots.”
Graham will again have Ryan Dobbs as an option at the net after the three-year starter at middle blocker was named second-team all-district.
“Ryan’s shown a lot of progress and potential on the outside as well,” Beal said.
Another setter, senior Jenica Fielder, was named honorable mention last fall. Also back on the roster are senior Emma Jones and and junior Nikki Jackman.
Senior J’Brya Forman joins the group at libero while Audessa Brown, another option as a hitter, transferred from Tioga for her senior year.
Sherman will enter the season with at least three freshmen on the roster — Kate Foley, Kaiden Mullinix and Marissa Wells — and a couple of other ninth-graders might also earn a varsity slot.
There are still a couple of roster spots up for grabs when it comes to the defensive specialist role.
“I’ve got quite a few that are competing for that spot,” Beal said.
The Lady Bearcats have non-district matches against North Mesquite, Argyle Liberty Christian, Denton Braswell, Argyle, Denton Ryan and Anna before opening District 10-5A play on Sept. 29.
Sherman remained with Denison, Lovejoy, Wylie East, Princeton and McKinney North while the latest realignment added Prosper Rock Hill, which is a new program, and The Colony to the mix.
What: Sherman at Royse City
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday