Summit’s postseason drought in volleyball reached two seasons after a fifth-place finish in district last year. It was the first time in coach Linda Alfaro’s tenure that the Jaguars have missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons, but with a solid core of experience returning, players and coaches feel like they’ll be part of the playoff conversation in 2014.“I think we’re going to be right there in the hunt,” Alfaro said. “Waxahachie is returning a lot of girls. They’re going to be very solid. Red Oak is always traditionally strong. Then of course the other two Mansfield schools, Legacy and Lake Ridge, but I think we’re right in there.”Summit graduated a class of five seniors from last year’s squad, with the biggest losses coming in defense and serve receive. But six seniors are back for this season, and at least six players – Alex Campbell, Arianna Baker, Kayrin Wells, Sarah Williams, Xariah Williams and Jejla Camdzic – all have varsity experience. The team may lack superstar power, but Alfaro feels they’re solid across the board.“I think this team is so well rounded as far as what each player can give,” she said. “There’s a lot of key players because they’re all going to have to do well for us to be successful.”Among the primary pieces returning in 2014 are Baker and Wells, a pair of middle blockers. Their size doesn’t jump of the stat sheet, but Alfaro warns not to underestimate their abilities simply based on height.“Even though my middles are only 5-7, they each jump like they were six feet or taller,” Alfaro said. “Both of them touch around 9-6, which means they’re only four inches from touching [a basketball] rim. So they’re very athletic.”Baker agrees that their size doesn’t necessarily hold them back, even when facing much taller teams.“I think it doesn’t really matter about size,” she said. “If you have the athletic ability to really push yourself to jump higher, you can show these other teams out just by athletic ability and working harder. It’s not always about height when you play volleyball.”Athleticism is a key for the Lady Jaguars, and Alfaro intends to maximize that aspect of her squad.“We want to use our athleticism to the best of our abilities and to develop the girls to where they can use those assets to score the points when we need them,” she said. “I think we made some good strides through our offseason on things that we felt we needed to do better in order to be successful. We went back and re-evaluated what we needed to do better so we could bring out the athleticism in our girls.”The players also feel like an important ingredient in their recipe for success this season will be unity and chemistry. Campbell thinks they already have a strong bond, but it’s growing even stronger through their determined efforts to reach the playoffs this season.“We’re just all working together every day trying make each other and ourselves better so we can all be on the same page,” she said. “We may not have the tallest players, but I think we can outplay our opponents mentally. We just have to all work together every single play, every single game.”“I think our unity has brought us together,” Baker added. “I think each individual teammate has faith in each other.”Alfaro is also taking a focused approach to develop the leadership of her team – not just for this season, but for the rest of their lives. The seniors have all been reading “Leadership 101” by John Maxwell over the summer, and together they’ll have a discussion of the book after the first day of practice.“I think an issue with kids these days is they don’t know how to be leaders and how to show leadership,” she said. “So that’s something I’m hoping we can help them with so they can help our team.”There’s also a pride factor at work for the Lady Jags.“That’s another thing we’re working on, is the pride of playing for Summit and establishing that tradition again,” Alfaro added.