Volleyball: New direction

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DRC/David Minton
Lake Dallas volleyball coach Heather Van Noy celebrates after a point against Waxahachie on Aug. 9 in Corinth.
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When Heather Van Noy landed her first head coaching job back in May at Lake Dallas, one of the many people to congratulate the former Guyer assistant coach was her former teammate, friend and fierce rival, Ryan assistant coach Addie Mack.

Shortly thereafter, Van Noy was the one congratulating Mack, as the longtime Ryan assistant was named the new head coach at Guyer after the school's only coach in its history, Jennifer Bramlett, left the business.

"We had been such close friends for a really long time," Mack said of Van Noy, her former teammate for three seasons at TWU. "When the Lake Dallas job came open for her, I was so excited for her and we talked about what our futures held."

Then, when the Guyer job opened, Mack placed a call to Van Noy to pick her brain about the opening.

"The first person I called was her [Van Noy], and we talked about what I would have over here and what I was going to be inheriting. During the whole process, we were bouncing stuff off each other to get a feel for what we needed to take care of prior to the season starting."

Mack and Van Noy are just two of many local volleyball coaches making their head coaching debuts this season.

Denton hired Danielle Silva to replace longtime coach Heather Stewart. Sanger hired Tammy Niemczyk to replace Heather Feller, who returned Sanger to volleyball prominence after a long playoff drought but left coaching after three seasons.

Liberty Christian hired Kimberly Weaver, who had previous coaching experience at the junior college level but not in high school, to replace longtime coach Lisa Deaver.

All of the coaches are dealing with new challenges that, as assistants, they did not have to worry about.

"There's definitely a lot more paperwork and a lot more stress that I never even considered," said Van Noy, who's led Lake Dallas to a 13-13 start. "Every decision has to pass through me - that's how people feel, not me necessarily. That's been the biggest difference of being a head coach instead of an assistant."

Van Noy has tried to correct a culture that hasn't been filled with postseason appearances in recent years.

Last season, the Lady Falcons made the playoffs for the first time in seven years, and this season, Van Noy is trying to build on that taste of success.

"That has definitely been the most challenging part, getting these kids to realize how good we are," she said. "Physically we're right there with everyone, but mentally is where we struggle sometimes. We're definitely getting there. The last three tournaments have helped us break through that mentality. We're starting to win some games that we weren't able to win two or three weeks ago with close games that go down to the wire."

Mack took over a newer program that had recently built some tradition before struggling to four district wins last year in their first season in Class 5A.

But so far this year, the Lady Wildcats have had a lot to be happy about it.

At 15-9 after Tuesday's thrashing of The Colony, Guyer has just two more matches before beginning District 7-5A play against Keller Fossil Ridge on Sept. 9, with hopes of making it back to the postseason.

And perhaps the win that vaulted the Lady Wildcats to the good spot they are in now was over their former coach, and Mack's good friend.

It came in the Lewisville tournament where Guyer met Lake Dallas in the semifinals, and the Lady Wildcats won in five sets. Then, they turned around immediately and defeated Rockwall-Heath in the championship, once again in five sets.

"It [the Lewisville tournament] was incredible because we'd been talking about confidence," Mack said. "Our skill is where it needs to be, but our confidence wasn't there. Going into that match [against Lake Dallas] we started off really rocky but it switched and they knew they were better than how they were playing. It was incredible seeing them perform like that. That day helped show us we can compete."

ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872. His e-mail address is aboedeker@dentonrc.com .



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