Prior to the season, Overton volleyball coach Randy Smith expected a difficult non-district schedule and few returning lettermen to result in an average record.
In the neighborhood of .500 during the first two months, he figured.
“We were really good last year, and were at one time ranked second in the state,” said Smith, in his third year at the helm. “We had six or seven seniors on that team. We thought this would be a rebuilding year.”
Turns out, the Lady Mustangs completed the rebuilding project rather quickly.
Entering tonight’s matchup with Leverett’s Chapel, Overton is 26-5 overall and 5-0 in District 20-1A. And though the ranking isn’t quite like second in the state, the Lady Mustangs are No. 24 by the Texas High School Girls Coaches Association.
That could be considered a remarkable transition, since Overton returned only three starters from a regional quarterfinalist, one of whom (Erica Carson) missed the first 29 matches with an ACL injury.
That left Abby Mackey and Tori Williamson as the only players with varsity experience, which left the majority of the team with a learning curve to master.
“The kids have really stepped up,” Smith said. “It really helps that we have one of the, if not the, top players in the Class 1A. She’s phenomenal. The kids don’t mind jumping on her back and riding her when necessary.”
That player is Mackey, who has 456 kills and 240 digs on the season. The 5-7 standout provides the younger players a high standard to strive for each time the Lady Mustangs step onto the court.
“I knew Abby was going to be good this year, but I didn’t know she would be great,” Smith said. “She improved a lot over the summer. I didn’t know how fast some of the other people would pick things up, but they did.”
Williamson, meanwhile, has 112 kills, 176 digs and 99 aces on the year. The other statistical leaders include Savannah Bobbitt (686 assists, 54 aces), Nekia Chappell (117 kills), Heather Raney (104 kills) and Kassie Honzell (219 digs, 64 aces).
“You have to give these girls credit,” Smith said. “They worked hard in our summer-league program and that gave them a little confidence. The kids here expect to be successful.
“Three years ago when I came here, building confidence was the toughest thing to do. The talent was there, but the belief that they were really good was something that had to be developed.”
Following tonight’s road match, Overton is scheduled to play host to Bullard in a non-district match Tuesday night.
With a home winning streak that dates back to 2009, the Lady Mustangs have a brand new gym to continue the mark in this season.
“It’s been nice,” Smith said. “It’s a beautiful facility. It gives us something to be proud of.
“We have a new gym, new team and some great games. It’s just made for an exciting volleyball season.”
Carlisle is second in 20-1A at 5-1. The rest of the league includes Beckville (3-2), Leverett’s Chapel (3-2), Timpson (2-3), Gary (0-5) and Karnack (0-5).