There are plenty of new faces but the Lady Lions plan to reach the same places this fall.
John Tyler graduated seven seniors from its 2012 volleyball team and has a new coach to boot, but first-year boss LaMessa Derrett doesn’t plan on changing any of the program’s expectations.
The Lady Lions have made four straight playoff appearances and won more than 50 matches in the past two years. With former coach Stephanie March-Smith now at Beaumont Ozen, Derrett has stepped in to keep things rolling.
“I think we’ll do well,” said Derrett, a JT assistant the last seven years. “Our goal is to go beyond the first round (of playoffs). We’ve been stuck at the first round the past three years. I think we’ll do well if we listen and play as a team.”
The season starts Tuesday at the Lions Den when JT hosts Carthage at 7 p.m.
Among the seven seniors the Lady Lions must replace, four were star, all-district performers. Quaneshia Johnson was named Setter of the Year and Breanna Choice earned Blocker of the Year on the District 16-4A all-district team while Erica Franklin and Amicia Williams were first-team selections.
“We’re missing three outside hitters that were really good,” Derrett said.
JT will be young in Derrett’s first year, leaning on the seniors Kashanti Flowers and Tajnae Thomas as well as juniors Donishia Rouege and Aaliyah Waalee.
Rouege, JT’s lone returning all-district first teamer, is a 5-10 setter and attacker. Along with 5-10 outside hitter Flowers, a second-team selection last year, the Lady Lions will be strongest on offense.
“We can actually hit; we’re pretty good attackers,” Derrett said.
Returning varsity players Shakendra Tilley (5-9 So., MB) and Johnetta Preston (5-10 So., MB) are also expected to make an impact this year and Derrett said she freshmen will step up to help fill in on the outside.
Thomas, a 5-5 libero, and Waalee, a 5-2 defensive specialist, will lead the charge on defense.
After today’s game, JT plays in the Garland tournament against Naaman Forest, Mesquite Poteet and Dallas Skyline. The Lady Lions open District 16-4A play on Sept. 27 against Nacogdoches.
LIONS TALES: JT was originally scheduled to open on the road, but tonight’s game was switched to Tyler due to incomplete construction in Carthage.
John Tyler Lady Lions
Coach: LaMessa Derrett (first year)
2012 record: 25-15 (8-2 District 16-4A), bi-district playoffs
Key departures: Quaneshia Johnson, Breanna Choice, Erica Franklin, Amicia Williams
Key returners: Donishia Rouege (Jr. S), Kashanti Flowers (Sr. OH), Shakendra Tilley (So. MB)
Team strengths: Led by Flowers (5-10), the Lady Lions will be strong on offense this year, though they’ll have to replace the District 16-4A blocker (Choice) and setter (Johnson) of the year.
Season outlook: After four straight playoff appearances under former coach Stephanie March-Smith, Derrett is looking to not only reach the postseason, but go past the first round.
Season opener: Carthage at John Tyler, 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Johnetta PrestonMBSo. 5-10
Head coach: LaMessa Derret
Assistant coaches: Kala Morrow, Sh’Quinta Petty, Angela Moon
2013 John Tyler Varsity Volleyball Schedule
Aug. 13 Carthage John Tyler HS 7 p.m.
Aug. 15-17 Garland Tournament Mansfield HS TBA
Aug. 20 Lufkin John Tyler HS 6 p.m.
Aug. 22-24 ETBU Tournament Marshall HS TBA
Aug. 27 White Oak/Henderson John Tyler HS 5 p.m.
Aug. 29-31 Tyler Invitational John Tyler HS TBA
Sept. 3 REL/Quitman JT/REL HS 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 6 Marshall John Tyler HS 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 10 Pine Tree John Tyler HS 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 Van John Tyler HS 5:30 p.m.
Sept. 17 Mabank Mabank HS 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 20 Hallsville Hallsville HS 5 p.m.
Sept. 27 *Nacogdoches John Tyler HS 4:30 p.m.
Oct. 1 *Lindale Lindale HS 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 4 *Whitehouse Whitehouse HS 4:30 p.m.
Oct. 8 *Jacksonville John Tyler HS 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 11 *Corsicana John Tyler HS 4:30 p.m.
Oct. 15 *Nacogdoches Nacogdoches HS 6 p.m.
Oct. 18 *Lindale John Tyler HS 4:30 p.m.
Oct. 22 **Whitehouse John Tyler HS 6 p.m.
Oct. 25 *Jacksonville Jacksonville HS 4:30 p.m.
Oct. 29 *Corsicana Corsicana HS 6 p.m.
* — District 16-4A game
** — Senior Night