Keller's Lindsay Cline looks at district rival Southlake Carroll and sees only one marked difference from her team.
"They have expectations to always win," she said. "We don't have that history, that tradition. We can change that."
In a year in which Carroll is the talk of the state in volleyball, it's Keller that's quietly building a strong résumé while returning a core group of seniors that has grand aspirations.
The Lady Indians, who finished first in the San Angelo tournament, are 19-6, and coach Sylvia Ortiz said she knows this team has the tools to reach new heights.
"Just watching them get better over the years and fight through so many things, I thought this might be my strongest team in 12 years," Ortiz said. "They have a real chance to do some things we haven't done here."
Keller has never been past the area playoff round under Ortiz's watch. Cline is one of nine seniors that make up a rotating powerhouse that could change all that.
Janelle Giordano, a 6-foot-2 middle blocker who has committed to SMU, and Julie Haake anchor a front row that has been dominant at the net. Cline works the defensive end and been on point with digs and passes.
"It's not just one part of our team that would make us good," Ortiz said. "We have to have all things working for us and I'm pleased where we're at, but we can get better."
What hasn't been working in five losses to the state's most powerful programs is errors.
After losing twice to Lucas Lovejoy and taking defeats to Colleyville Heritage, Katy Seven Lakes and Allen, Ortiz said the common denominator was unforced mistakes.
"You just can't beat yourself," she said. "We were in all of those matches, but just couldn't get it done. We don't even need to keep a stat book when you can start right there."
Ortiz is confident that her team is starting to not only improve, but hold on to the momentum.
"We all have different personalities, but we're all close and love the game," she said.
Timber Creek derailed
Winners in 23 of 28 matches before Tuesday, Keller Timber Creek stumbled twice, to Prosper and Trophy Club Nelson.
Injuries have hit the Lady Falcons (23-7).
"It's caused a depth problem, so we've had to ask our regulars to go longer," coach Cathy Reeves said. "That puts more pressure and fatigue on us."
Junior outside hitter Lauran Mills has been a strong piece of the early puzzle. Tuesday she had eight kills and a block while working a strong defensive effort in her back row rotation against a flurry of Nelson hitters. Mills has committed to SMU.
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