A strong argument could have been made last year that Argyle’s volleyball team was the second-best in all of Class 3A.
The Lady Eagles just happened to run into the best one in the third round of the playoffs, dropping a five-set thriller to eventual state champion Decatur, a team that did not drop a set in the postseason outside of that win over Argyle.
Now in the newly named Class 4A, Argyle is set to begin volleyball practice today, the first day teams can hold official practice, hoping to end its season in November back at the UIL state tournament, where it lost in the 2012 final.
“We’re excited. I’ve got a pretty good core group of kids coming back, so I think we’ll be competitive again,” Argyle coach Clark Oberle said. “We’re always trying to get to that next level. That’ll be our focus again this year. The girls worked really hard over the summer. We’re excited to get it going again.”
Oberle has a key group back from last season, highlighted by Texas Tech signee Katy Keenan in the middle of Argyle’s front line, where she’s joined by outside hitter Eighmy Dobbins. He also returns both of his setters in juniors Strealy Sizelove and Alexa Bass.
With that, Oberle knows his team will be expected to make another deep postseason run, but he said it is hard to be satisfied with anything other than a state tournament appearance.
“A lot of things have to happen for that to come true,” Oberle said. “It’s our goal, but we won’t be disappointed if that doesn’t happen.”
While Oberle has two superstars returning up front, Guyer coach Addie Mack has a solid group of front-line players back for the Lady Wildcats’ reintroduction to the state’s largest classification. In two previous years at the highest level, in what was previously known as Class 5A, Guyer failed to make the postseason.
This year, in Class 6A, the Lady Wildcats have a good base to start with as they too begin practice today.
“Knowing that these girls have experienced varsity play and have had good quality playing time helps with the fact [that] our district is going to be more competitive,” Mack said. “Them being used to each other helps with our goal of being successful in district.”
In joining the newly formed District 5-6A, Mack will be reunited with her former boss, while the Guyer-Ryan rivalry will be renewed on the floor. Before taking the Guyer job prior to the 2011 season, Mack was the varsity assistant under Ryan coach Cindy Williams.
Williams has experienced the rigors of the big stage over the past two seasons, as Ryan was paired with arguably one of the toughest districts in the state and suffered to the tune of winning just one set in district play over the last two years — taking a lone set against Lewisville in 2012.
“From what we’ve seen in the summer and at team camp, I just feel like we’ll be a lot more competitive this year,” Williams said.
At Denton, the Lady Broncos will see some new faces in District 5-5A, and coach Danielle Kading, who was formerly known as Danielle Silva before getting married over the summer, said she is confident her team can compete with some old faces like Wichita Falls and Wichita Falls Rider, along with some new faces in the Saginaw schools.
“I definitely think we have the talent, the experience and the level of play to win district,” Kading said. “It’s kind of exciting to say that because I believe it. The mentality is there. They’ve been talking about it all summer and they actually believe they can achieve it. With three new teams, it will be kind of interesting to see how they play.”
Speaking of new teams, Lake Dallas gets a whole lot of them, as the Lady Falcons were placed in District 6-5A with Grapevine, Birdville and four Fort Worth ISD schools.
Heather Van Noy, who is beginning her fourth season at the helm, has endured two losing seasons since going to the regional semifinal in her first season.
Even though her team is young, they are now young and experienced, which she said she be a big difference from last season.
“They were so frustrated to lose last year,” Van Noy said. “They were so competitive and they were frustrated, and now they don’t ever want to experience a losing season again. They’re hungry to get out there and fight. We had two losing seasons in a row and no one wants that anymore. They want to change that.”