All Saints Lady Trojans
Coach: Bryan Winegeart
2012 record: 30-9 (6-2 TAPPS 2-4A), area playoffs
Key departure: MB Katrina Kastmo (Mary Hardin-Baylor)
Key returners: Lanna Johnson (Sr. OH), Maddie Smith (Sr. S), Madeline Wynne (Sr. MB), Foster Hackney (Jr. Libero)
Key newcomers: Ferrell Clyde (So. 5-10 MB), Emma Lewis (So. DS)
Team strengths: The loss of Kastmo will be overcome by a team that knows how to play well as a unit. "I think the strengths are going to be them being able to work together as a team," Winegeart said. The senior trio of Johnson, Smith and Wynne have been a collective force for three years now at the varsity level. "They are biting at the bit to take over this team and be leaders on this team," Winegeart said.
Season outlook: For the first time in eight years All Saints won't have a Kastmo racking up the kills. First future Texas A&M star Alisia and then Katrina (21.5 kills per match last year) kept the Lady Trojans in the playoffs every year. But the all-state selection was the only player lost to graduation, so All Saints retains enough experience to keep the Lady Trojans in contention for another playoff spot and perhaps a league title.
Season opener: All Saints vs. Longview/Kilgore (dual match) at Longview, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Bishop Gorman Lady Crusaders
Coach: Jessica Layne
2012 record: 4-24 (2-6 TAPPS 2-4A)
Key departures: MB Susannah Williams, S Danielle Smith
Key returners: Courtney Fergerson (Sr. S), Mandie VanderVorste (Sr. M/OH), Katelin Jacobi (So. S)
Key newcomers: Kristian Loving (So. M/OH), Caroline Camp (Jr. M/OH), Kianna Udenze (Jr. MB)
Team strengths: The Lady Crusaders boast an energetic and enthusiastic squad that is also fundamentally sound. "I think putting all those aspects together should make them very exciting to watch," Layne said. Fergerson and VanderVorste, along with returning all-district player Jacobi, provide a strong foundation for a team looking to get back into the playoffs.
Season outlook: Though Gorman will miss Williams and Smith, Layne is excited about this year's squad. A solid influx of younger talent could propel the Lady Crusaders into a strong position by the time the district tournament, which is scheduled for Tyler this year, rolls around. "I think that high energy level and enthusiasm is going to really pay off for this group," Layne said.
Season opener: Quitman at Gorman, 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Grace Community Lady Cougars
Coach: Monica Bozeman
2012 record: 19-11 (4-4 TAPPS 2-4A), area playoffs
Key departure: S Rilee Miller (Tyler Junior College)
Key returners: Emma Yeatts (Sr. OH/S), Taylor Kingsley (Jr. MS), Bethany Kimmey (Jr. OH), Abbie Rives (Jr. OPP), Kristin Braughton (Jr. MB)
Key newcomer: Savannah Saczek (So. MB)
Team strengths: Bozeman returns to the coaching ranks after a 10-year hiatus with a team sporting five all-district players and strong senior leadership from Yeatts and Madelene Williams. While rotations will be worked out in the opening weeks of the season as coaches and players learn each others' strengths, the Lady Cougars have enough talent back to compete.
Season outlook: The Lady Cougars graduated only one senior, but Miller led Grace in assists, kills, digs and aces. To replace that production, Bozeman excepts her squad to play as one. "We are going to play as a team this year, … not just be a bunch of individuals," Bozeman said. The Lady Cougars started 2012 on fire, going 3-0 to start league play, and they'll hope to bring it all together by the time TAPPS 2-4A play begins on Sept. 10.
Season opener: Grace vs. Henderson/Winona (dual match) at Henderson, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Bullard Brook Hill Lady Guard
Coach: Ricky Clements
2012 record: 23-5 (8-0 TAPPS 4-3A), area playoffs
Key losses: L Abigail Baker, S/OH Baylee Rozell, S/OH Alyssa Eden, DS Jessica Tipton
Key departures: Samantha Anderson (Jr. 6-3 MB), Charlie Niles (So. S/OH), Hayden Langemeier (Sr. OH), Desarae Rowan (Sr. DS), Lily Cool (Sr. OH)
Key newcomers: Lindsay Wheeler (S), Lexi Crenshaw (5-11 MB), Morgan Maguorik, Morgan Moss
Team strengths: "Our strengths are obviously going to be our middle hitting being led by Samantha Anderson," Clements said. Anderson had 303 kills and 83.5 blocks as a sophomore last year and was named the district's co-MVP. Setters Niles and Wheeler will also be a strength as will the leadership of Rowan, Langemeier and Cool.
Season outlook: Though the Lady Guard lost four seniors, including three all-district first teamers from the second-best team in school history, there's still plenty of talent around Anderson to believe they can again win their league. After a tight area-round loss in the playoffs last year, Brook Hill will be eyeing a longer postseason run this time around. "We look to repeat as district champs and hopefully go far into the playoffs," Clements said.
Season opener: Brook Hill vs. Jacksonville/Bullard (dual match) at Jacksonville, Tuesday.
East Texas Christian Academy Lady Panthers
Coach: Diann Preston
2012 record: 19-9 (8-2 TAPPS 3-2A), area playoffs
Key departures: MB Shannon Stewart, OH Courtney Craig, MB Amy Riggle, OH Lauren Smitherman
Key returners: Lindsey Shawver (Jr. L), Breanna Mitchell (So. S)
Key newcomers: None
Team strengths: "I think defense will be a good strength and our serving," Preston said. The coach added Shawver ("I expect great things out of her,") and Mitchell ("She'll be one of my top all-around players,") will lead the charge as the Lady Panthers look at the prospect of replacing four all-district performers from last year's squad.
Season outlook: ETCA will have to contend with Rockwall Heritage Christian for the league crown. Preston thinks the Lady Panthers will be better prepared in their second year at the TAPPS 2A level, with the team having a better grasp of the challenges involved after moving up from 1A the year before. "I think we have a good chance of doing well in district," Preston said.
Season opener: ETCA at Carlisle, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.