Volleyball squads from around the area and state hit the gym Monday.

First scrimmages may be conducted on Friday with first matches played beginning Monday, Aug. 11.

John Tyler

John Tyler begins the 2014-15 athletics calendar Monday.

The JT Lady Lions begin volleyball practice Monday, the school's first team to start preparations for the new school year.

John Tyler is coming off a 12-27 year in coach LaMessa Derrett's first season in charge. The Lady Lions went 3-7 in District 16-4A, losing out on a chance for a playoff berth in the final match of the season.

In her second year as head coach, Derrett will welcome back first-team all-district player DeDe Rouge, now a senior. Additionally, incoming juniors Chenique Baxter and Shakendra Tilley were all-district honorable mention selections last season.

The Lady Lions have scrimmages against Robert E. Lee and Lindale on Friday and Saturday.

John Tyler opens the season at Carthage on Aug. 12. Its home opener isn't until the Tyler Invitational Aug. 28-30.

The Lady Lions will also play in the Garland and ETBU tournaments before starting District 16-5A play on Sept. 12 at home against Jacksonville. Senior Night is Oct. 21 against Whitehouse. The season-finale is Oct. 28 in Lindale, which went undefeated in 16-4A last year.

REL

Robert E. Lee volleyball begins its 2014 campaign Monday with its first practice session. Players will report to Lee Varsity Gymnasium at 8:30 a.m. for conditioning and lifting.

Incoming freshmen will then have their practice from 1 to 3 p.m. with sophomores-seniors slated to practice from 2:30 to 5 p.m. This will continue throughout the week leading up to scrimmages on Friday and Saturday.

Lee will be at Lindale in a quad scrimmage beginning at 9 a.m. Friday against the hosts, John Tyler and Arp. The Lady Raiders will hold their own quad scrimmage at 9 a.m. Saturday against Pine Tree, JT, and Bullard.

REL coach Melissa Lee expects 40 freshman to be ready to go on Monday with 70 players total that she will whittle down into varsity, junior varsity and two freshmen teams.

The Lady Raiders have made the playoffs in seven of the past eight years. To continue that surge of success, REL will have to survive in an entirely new district.

REL jumped up to Class 6A and is now competing in a District 11-6A with Garland ISD schools and Rockwall. Some of the opponents are Sachse, Rowlett, Naaman Forest and Garland.

The Lady Raiders were stopped in the first round last year by Sachse to finish with a 25-15 record. Also reaching at least the second round from the new district and back for more are Rowlett and Rockwall.

Coach Lee understands what the Lady Raiders are up against.

"Just the experience the kids got (last year) will help, but these teams we are playing their kids that is all they do all the time is play volleyball," Lee said. "I know we are in the hardest bracket in the White Oak Tournament, so that will help prepare us also."

Lee said she has seven returning players, all of which saw significant playing time last year. It begins on defense with Jamesha Hutton and Taylor Winchester in the libero position. Winchester received first-team all-district honors last year with Hutton named honorable mention.

Also receiving honorable mention consideration was returning setter Genesis Borens. Outside hitter Claire Himes also looks to pick up where she left off last season in receiving second-team honors.

Rounding out the returners are Emily Starr, Caroline Lynch and Jamie Mills.

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