Lady Tigers firming up 2013 lineup

Posted Monday, Jul. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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When the Mansfield volleyball team takes the floor this season, it will be the first time in four years that outside hitter Mallory Sanders won’t be on the court. She was a leader and part of the senior class that moved on from the Lady Tigers’ 2013 co-district champion team, along with a setter and two liberos.

“We actually lost a lot from last year,” head coach Judith McGill said.

But the Lady Tigers feel good about the pieces they have in place for 2014, and look to build on last season’s second-round playoff exit.

“I have my thoughts about who will start,” McGill said. “We’ll have to see if they’re able to carry the load. We have some really good, young talent that will get some good looks at the beginning and we’ll go from there.

“The people we’re going to lean on the most are seniors,” she added. “Most of them got pretty good playing time last year. We still have some experience, but we have two or three positions that will be brand new varsity players that have never played a varsity game. That’s going to be key – how well the young kids and inexperienced kids step up.”

One position McGill isn’t concerned about is setter. Chandler Gow is one of the seniors that Mansfield will turn to for leadership and direction, and McGill has high expectations for her.

“I have a really great setter; Chandler Gow is awesome,” McGill said. “So, I’ve got a great leader and she’ll run a really great offense for us. She’s smart and competitive so I feel pretty solid there.”

Also returning are outside hitter Morgan Mutti and libero Bryn Kirkland, as well as Emily Hollinsworth, who is moving to her more natural position of outside hitter this year after playing in the middle last season.

“She can really play out there. I think that will be key,” McGill said.

With several new pieces in the fold, Mansfield will probably have a slightly different look offensively this season.

“Our offense will be quick and fast,” McGill said. “We’re going to have to be able to spread that block out if we have big kids in front of us. If we let them double block us we’re going to be in a little bit of trouble. So we’ll run a faster, quicker offense.”

McGill feels like they’ll also have to effectively overcome a lack of size.

“What we need right now is some big girls. I need to go in August 5 for tryouts and see a 6-foot-5 kid standing in the gym,” she joked.

“Defensively, I think we’ll be OK,” she added. “We might have to change some defensive schemes based on blocking. We’ll just have to adjust as we play different opponents, but defensively I think we’ll be very solid. I feel really good about our back row, we’ll just have so see who steps up and provides some offense.”

The good news for McGill is that about two-thirds of the team’s games come in the first few weeks thanks in large part to tournaments, which she’ll use to craft the right mix of players.

“That’s what we’ll do with all three of our tournaments,” she said. “Everyone will get good looks, so whoever impresses and has done the best will obviously get the job for district. And I don’t usually change the lineup much once we get to district play.”

And speaking of district, McGill feels like Cedar Hill, who shared the 7-5A title with Mansfield last season, will again be the team to beat.

“I think Cedar Hill probably has the edge right now,” she said. “They’ve got some great athletes and they’ve got some height. I think after that it’ll be up for grabs. Midlothian will be good; they’ve some good young kids and they’ve got a good program over there. Timberview will be tall and athletic. It’ll be a dogfight.”

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