Argyle coach Clark Oberle’s program has reached a level where success is always expected.
In 2012, that success reached new heights when the Lady Eagles made it to the Class 3A state championship game, before falling in five sets to Abilene Wylie. Last season, the Lady Eagles lost in the third round of the playoffs to eventual state champions Decatur and were the only team to take a postseason set from Decatur in their five-set defeat.
With the dawn of the 2014 season less than a week away, Argyle has those same lofty goals, and much of that is tied to the dynamic duo Oberle has back on his front line.
That’s where Katy Keenan and Eighmy Dobbins come into the picture. Keenan is a senior, who will be in her fourth year as a starting middle blocker, and Dobbins will be beginning her third year as a starting outside hitter as a junior.
“I know I’m very spoiled even to have one quality player like that,” Oberle said. “I’m really fortunate to have two. They’re going to be a huge part of our success. About every point we score, I’m sure they’ll have something to do with it one way or another.”
Oberle is not too far off with that assessment, just check the 2013 statistics.
Last year, Keenan, a Texas Tech pledge, tallied a team-high 427 kills with an out-of-this-world .533 hitting percentage and had 101.5 blocks. Dobbins was just behind her teammate with 424 kills with a .301 hitting percentage.
With those two superstars back in his lineup, along with both of his junior starting setters, Alexa Bass and Strealy Sizelove, Oberle knows his program will once again have high expectations internally, as well as from the Argyle community.
“The last several years, it has [state championship] been a legit goal for us,” Oberle said. “We still try to win district championships. A lot of people coach and play a long time and don’t even get a chance. We’re still thankful for our success and won’t take anything for granted.”
Calvary loading up for three-peat attempt
In the past two seasons, Calvary coach Jennifer Bramlett has had to find new ways to motivate her team and herself en route to two straight TAPPS Class 2A state championships.
The Lady Lions have not dropped a set in district play since Bramlett has been on board, and she’ll enter her third season at the helm having never called a timeout in district play.
But Bramlett, who took a year off after leaving Guyer following the 2010 season, insists she is still pushing her team to play strong competition before district play.
“We are going to some tough tournaments, like the Ryan tournament next week,” Bramlett said. “I think we open with Waxahachie, so I’m sure they’re just seeing a little private school. A lot of people we play don’t even know who we are.”
While they lost the services of do-it-all star Madeline Mayer, Bramlett does have all-state libero Kelly Crow returning, along with a host of newcomers, including former Aubrey starting setter Alex Martinez, as well as players from Guyer, Lake Dallas and Ponder.
With all the new faces, Bramlett said the goal is still the same.
“They’re a pretty focused group anyway, just the Calvary kids in general,” Bramlett said. “I don’t see any resetting involved. We’re going to have a goal of going for the three-peat. We’re just going to take it by day-by-day and work on the things we need to work on and not get ahead of ourselves.”
Transfer from Irving giving Lake Dallas a boost
The past two years at Lake Dallas have seen the Lady Falcons suffer through more than their fair share of growing pains.
After a run to the regional semifinal in 2011, coach Heather Van Noy had to acclimate a group of young, inexperienced players over the past two season and stumbled to losing records in both years.
This season, things are looking up for the fourth-year coach, thanks, in part, to Adrianna Nolly, a 6-2 junior middle blocker who transferred to Lake Dallas from Irving Nimitz.
Van Noy said Nolly has already become one of her team’s best players and will be a key contributor on a team that features only two seniors.
Guyer loaded up front, focused on back
The Lady Wildcats played a handful of young players last season en route to a successful season that saw them make it to the area round of the postseason.
Coach Addie Mack has a lot of that talent back for the 2014 season, especially on her front line where she lost one key contributor in middle blocker Sydney Reyes, but returns a group loaded with talent, size and experience.
A trio of juniors returns up front in middle blocker Mallory McKnight, right-side hitter Tabitha Spray and outside Emily Hill, who is coming off a district offensive MVP award in 2013 as a sophomore. Add in senior outside hitter Mikayla Yates, and Guyer has plenty of offensive prowess at its disposal.
But Mack has a different focus heading into the season.
Senior libero McKenzie Christopher is coming back after a breakout junior season. Mack said she is hoping to see her team’s defense make for a more well-rounded team this season.
“It is a good thing because you always think about the offense and big hitters, but our focus this offseason was our defense and knowing we had to fill in gaps,” Mack said.
“Offense can’t run without first-contact and passing. We have a lot of great front-row options, but we’ve been really focusing on our back row and keeping the ball in play so we can use our offensive threats as needed.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.