Lady Warriors return experienced team for a run at district volleyball title

Posted Monday, Jul. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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After finishing second in District 3-5A last year, Martin is looking to knock rival Arlington off the pedestal.

A look down the Lady Warriors roster might give the impression that they’re young, but it belies their overall experience.

Martin returns three seniors from a squad that exited the playoffs in the second round, but just as important is that the Lady Warriors have four juniors returning who all saw significant playing time last season.

“I’ll have the core of my team,” coach Tracy Perez-Peterson said. “We graduated four seniors, but we had a lot of young kids on the floor in key roles, so I think I’ll have a more seasoned team than I had last year.”

In fact, she thinks this squad is ahead of where Martin was heading into the 2012 season.

“We have a lot of kids that have played together, and now we just have to get back in the gym and get it together,” she said. “I feel like we’re in a better spot than we were last year with setting and some experienced kids in the middle.”

Among the experienced players returning is University of North Texas recruit Alexis Wright, who plays primarily in the middle but has the versatility to fill other positions. The senior will be joined in the middle by Eden Hilbert, who is expected to play a bigger role this season, and by setter and defensive player Molly Garbo.

Also making the full-time move to varsity, after seeing playing time in the playoffs as a freshman last season, will be setter Claire Schwettmann. Perez-Peterson praises Schwettmann’s poise and maturity in addition to her abilities.

“I think people know about her, but I think she’s going to surprise some people,” Perez-Peterson said.

With all the experience coming back, Martin expects to hit the ground running, though there will still be a few kinks to work out in the preseason.

“I think [a few players will] have to change some positions, which will be a bit of a change, but the few that are moving are very athletic, and I think they’ll be fine,” Perez-Peterson said. “I don’t think we’ll make any changes schematically but just build on what we did last year.”

Wright thinks that the Lady Warriors have all the pieces to the puzzle and that it’s just about putting them in place.

“We have a lot of experienced players as far as varsity goes,” she said. “There’s a lot of chemistry. A lot of us have played together in school or in club. We have what we need; we just have to show up and play our game.”

Perez-Peterson feels like the early focus will be on offense.

Ball control and passing are “something we’re going to work on a lot in preseason,” she said. “That’s something that’s going to be key for us, is using all of our hitters and not just relying on our outsides like we have in the past.”

She also plans to use the preseason to gain an idea of where her team stands as far as intangibles.

“We try to figure out who is able to be mentally tough,” she said. “To me, when you play the better teams, you can see where your weaknesses are. If you don’t play a tough opponent, you won’t see how your kids respond to stress early. And you want to get that figured out before you go into district.”

To that end, Martin has put together a formidable early season schedule. But ultimately, it’s all about getting through district and into the playoffs.

And beating Arlington, of course.

“We’re kind of hungry to beat them,” Perez-Peterson said. “We haven’t beat them in two years. It hurts to lose to Arlington. That’s not our main focus, but that’s something we want to do.”

Perez-Peterson and Wright feel like the District 3-5A race is wide open this season, and Wright sees where they might have some advantage over their rivals.

“We have a lot of girls that can play different positions, as far as hitting in the middle or on the outside or the right side,” she said. “We have height and we have the ball control to use it to our advantage. And we have great defense.”

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