As high school volleyball teams begin practices Tuesday morning, it is clear the players aren't the only ones eager to get started.
Five Denton-area teams have new head coaches, including two first-timers, two veterans taking on a new challenge and a softball coach splitting duties. All of them watched their teams this summer, but because UIL rules keep them from coaching, they've been spectators — until now.
"Last week at team camp, I was sitting in the bleachers looking for someone to talk to," new Lake Dallas volleyball coach Angel Mauterer said with a laugh. "I was so ready to get out there."
Mauterer, who was the head coach at Carrollton Creekview, came to Lake Dallas in March. She replaces former Lady Falcons' coach Heather Van Noy, who now is the head coach at Guyer. Van Noy accepted her new post back in January.
"The kids thought that once school ended, I could start coaching," Van Noy said with a laugh. "I had to tell them, 'We've still got a few more months.' This is the culmination of that waiting game, which seems like lasted forever. I am just as ready to get started."
Other schools also have had changes at the top. Former Keller Central assistant Nicole Hervey is now at Ryan, which won the District 5-5A title last year. Former Southlake Carroll assistant Megan DeGroot takes over for Class 4A state finalist Argyle.
Meanwhile, longtime Pilot Point softball coach James Ramsey will also coach volleyball.
Ponder's Stormi Lancaster, Denton's Gerry Standridge and Braswell's Allison Irvin all are going into Year 2 with their respective programs.
Lady Raiders ready for Midnight Madness
At least one local team isn't waiting until the sun comes up to start practice. Hervey confirmed Ryan will kick off its season at 12:01 a.m.
"I think I'm the only one here who's thinking, 'Yes! Midnight [practices],'" Hervey said. "We're going to be going non-stop here very soon, and we've got to be physically ready."
Ryan ran the table in District 5-5A last year under former coach Nicholas Gay. A few big-time players no longer are in the fold, but Hervey pointed to several returners, including outside hitters Taylor Terry and Tori Kelly along with Kenzi Valadez and Ashley Schroeder.
"It's a great group," Hervey said. "I'm nervous, but there's a lot of excitement there, too."
An eye on the playoffs
Before going to Lake Dallas for six seasons, Van Noy was an assistant coach at Guyer and knows full well the lofty expectations. The Lady Wildcats are traditionally in the playoff hunt every season, but missed the postseason last year in a ruthless District 6-6A.
Getting back is a top priority, Van Noy said.
"I would say about 90 to 95 percent of our girls were consistently showing up all summer long to get workouts in, and those that didn't were going to nationals and competing on a high level," Van Noy said. "We have a lot of kids that want to win so bad."
Van Noy has several star players returning, including setter Miles Baker and libero Kate Cowan. She also pointed to Shea Slusser, Mallory Pittman, Hope Kennedy and Caroline Orozco.
Argyle's DeGroot preaches versatility
Megan DeGroot paced the edge of the gym floor last week while watching her new team go through drills. Unable to chime in, she made sure to stand behind an imaginary line she created for herself.
"You see something go wrong and you want to say something," DeGroot said. "But I know I can't."
Argyle won 40 matches last year before losing in the state final to Bushland. It was the Lady Eagles' fourth trip in five seasons to the state tournament, and the natural thought process is to focus on finding a way to get back.
Stepping into prominent roles this year are returners Alyssa Wallace, Danielle Davis, Sophie Betzhold, Paxton McGlinch, Kassidy Reeves and Mariah Hesselgesser.
"I like what I see, and the biggest thing is that everyone is versatile," DeGroot said.
Briefly: Lake Dallas' Mauterer is still trying to figure out her roster, but pointed to three returners in Kasey Bortnem, Mallory Klingele and Bailey Dolezalek. ... Argyle wasn't the only local team to make a serious run last year. Ponder and Krum both made it to the region tournament in Class 3A and 4A, respectively. ... Argyle is ranked No. 2 in Class 4A in the latest Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 4A state poll. The Lady Eagles are the only ranked team in the Denton area.
STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.