‘Pretty far’ not far enough for Lady Bobcats

Posted Monday, Aug. 12, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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When you’re a program that aspires to be great but doesn’t go as far as anticipated, you’re naturally disappointed. But when “not as far” means three rounds into the playoffs and losing to the eventual Class 4A state finalist, then maybe you shouldn’t feel so bad.

However, that’s not what Byron Nelson volleyball coach Libby Pacheco wants out of her program. She is building something where the endgame is playing deep into November – the state tournament.

The 2012 Lady Bobcats won more than 30 games and their district championship. Couple that with preseason talk of going to the state tournament in Garland, and there were reasons why this program felt the way it did. Nelson fell in the Region I quarterfinals to Aledo.

“I really don’t think the bar was too high,” Pacheco said. “The amount of experience we had with our senior leadership and a senior setter was not unrealistic. But we have not gone over that hump yet. Right now, we’re at a point where we still have to be mentally ready to be state contenders. We still have a ways to go.”

Nelson’s pursuit will be daunting again because Region I features several perennial powers including Aledo, Dumas and Canyon Randall.

This team is also going to be without two key players who would have been essential to the front line’s performance. Outside hitter Eva Koster left the team to focus on swimming. Right side hitter Bailey Bunce decided to pursue other endeavors.

“We may not have some early success, but our focus is going to be on district play,” Pacheco said. “If we keep our focus on that and are prepared, I feel like we can be strong enough to be in contention.”

2013 Lady Bobcats

Coach: Libby Pacheco (fifth season)

2012: 33-14 (12-2 in 5-4A) lost to Aledo in Class 4A Region I quarterfinals

Key returners: Haley Tippett, Jr. OH; Elizabeth Pennington, Sr. MB; Delaney Duis, So. S; Sarah Borcik, Sr. MB

Key losses: Abby Van Houten, S; Crystal O’Connor L; Eva Koster, OH; Bailey Bunce, RS

Notable: Nelson began its season Tuesday against Richland … Pacheco is looking at running a 6-2 formation because she wants to find a way to keep Duis on the floor. “Delaney is just a great defensive player,” Pacheco said.

Still, the bulk of the offense has to be carried by Tippett and Pennington. That means that this team is going to have to be more sound defensively especially in the serve receive game. Pacheco is also bringing up several junior varsity players and isn’t sure who can or will contribute immediately.

One of the crunch needs is at libero. Two players under consideration will be O’Connor’s younger sister Tori, a sophomore, and junior Honor Fusselman. Fusselman can also flex out and play setter when the need arises … Nelson’s non-district tournaments are in Pearland, Arlington and its own. Pacheco calls it the toughest non-district schedule she’s had … The Lady Bobcats should be favored to win District 5-4A. But expect challenges from Wichita Falls Rider and Denton Guyer. Those teams split the two 2012 district meetings with the Lady Bobcats.

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