CORINTH — When Heather Van Noy took over as Lake Dallas’ new head volleyball coach last season, she couldn’t have stepped into a better situation.
Van Noy inherited a group of eight seniors who had played together since seventh grade, and she led the Lady Falcons to an undefeated district run and to the Class 4A regional semifinals.
All it takes is one glance onto the floor, and Van Noy quickly realizes her team is no longer laden with seniors. At any point during a match, there could be four underclassmen on the floor. And with injuries to two of her players, things haven’t exactly gone Lake Dallas’ way through nine matches this season.
A young and inexperienced team that has lacked confidence at times will look to turn things around starting today in the Lewisville/The Colony tournament. Lake Dallas plays Forney and North Mesquite to start off the tournament that runs through Saturday.
“At one point, I’ve looked out on the floor, and I had a freshman, three sophomores, a junior and a senior,” Van Noy said. “So it’s like craziness. There’s not a whole lot of consistency in age. With age comes a lot of inconsistencies because you haven’t seen the floor that much and played as long as some of the older girls.”
On Tuesday night, Lake Dallas (5-4) came out and swept Venus before falling to Sanger in four sets.
So far, the area of concern comes at the outset of matches, where, according to Van Noy and her players, energy and intensity have been lacking. As a result, Lake Dallas is forced to play from behind, a theme that’s remained constant.
“It just takes us awhile to get into the game,” senior outside hitter Keegan Gossett said. “We don’t come out very strong, and we’ve been struggling with that. We don’t even have our whole team right now, and we’re just struggling with that.”
The Lady Falcons have been without Gossett and sophomore setter Chrisa Head. Both players are out because of concussions, compounding the team’s problems.
Gossett, Megan Dando, Allie Wagoner and Amanda Edwards are the four returning seniors from last year’s team.
However, only Dando received any significant playing time. Dando was called upon to step into the rotation after a midseason injury to one of Van Noy’s players left a void on the court. Gossett admits it’s been tough being on the bench after she sustained her concussion in practice last week.
“I felt like I did my time,” Gossett said. “It’s my time to play, it’s my turn. I’m a senior, so [it’s tough] watching my team, especially when I know they’re not playing as well as I know they can, and I just have to sit on the bench and yell at them. It’s all I can do.”
If there is one thing last year’s success has done, it has burdened this year’s team with the pressure of matching its 2011 postseason run.
“It’s a lot of weight, because we have a lot to live up to from last year,” Gossett said. “They did so well, and we had some really strong seniors. They were great. This year, it’s a lot of pressure on us to do as well as them. We have a job to do.”
Van Noy mentioned that last season things didn’t go according to plan until district play, when the Lady Falcons reeled off 14 wins in 15 matches before their loss to Dumas in the playoffs.
This year, Van Noy’s waiting on the ebb and flow of the season to level and taper off, waiting on her players to develop into who she thinks they can be.
“The frustration is, I think, because I know our potential and I want to have that right now,” Van Noy said. “I know by the end of the season we’re going to get there, but I want it right now. So that’s where my frustration is. It’s not with the kids.
“I see so much potential in these kids, and in their future, so the frustration for me is not with them, it’s that I want everybody to fix everything right now.”
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .