Lady Texans determined not to miss out on playoffs

Posted Monday, Aug. 12, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Making the postseason isn’t a right. It’s earned. Northwest’s volleyball program enjoyed the success of making the playoffs in five of coach Dayna Horak’s first six seasons.

But her seventh revealed that it wasn’t so lucky. The Lady Texans saw their season end without a playoff appearance. They missed a berth by one game.

That didn’t sit very well with Horak or her players. However, it also might have been the wake-up call they were looking for when the offseason started.

For the first time, the program developed a more stringent strength and conditioning program. Horak then toughened the spring league and for the first time, created a summer league with eight other programs including Haltom, Richland, Saginaw Boswell and Fort Worth Christian. That league began in June and lasted through the end of July.

“There was more of a commitment from everybody about the way we did things,” Horak said. “We’ve always had spring ball but the summer league was new. I saw the kids come in with a desire to get back into the [playoff] hunt. They seem more in their energy. They were just determined to not let what happened last year happen again.”

Training camp week set the tone. Horak liked the energy and output. She saw more fire in the scrimmages. She also believes she has some depth.

The District 4-5A race appears to favor Carroll to repeat as district champions, but the Lady Texans believe they can challenge. There will be some strong competition coming from them, Keller and Richland.

“Our seniors have the energy and the urgency,” Horak said. “They know this is their last shot. Last year was the first time in quite a while we didn’t make playoffs. That’s not something common with us.”

2013 Lady Texans

Coach: Dayna Horak (8th season)

2012: 19-11 (8-6 in District 4-5A), did not make the playoffs

Key returners: Kayla Knaust Sr. RS; Shelby Stinnett, Sr. OH; Tessa Harfied Jr. MB; Brianna Barnhill, Sr. MB; Brooke Martin, Sr. L; Kelsi King, Sr. RS

Key losses: Kaylin Goss, S; Brooke Berryhill OH/L

Notable: Northwest’s season began Tuesday at Prosper … the losses of Goss (UT-Tyler) and Berryhill (Tulsa) will be felt, but Horak likes the foundation of the returning players … Martin has drawn some interest from West Texas State, while Stinnett and Knaust have are also generating interest … Horak liked how low the hitting error percentage was through the scrimmages … Look for first-year varsity player and senior Paige Mersberger to contribute immediately.

Freshman Cameron Berryhill has cracked the varsity lineup. That’s a pretty rare accomplishment. But it’s common within the Berryhill family. The last freshman to make the Northwest varsity was Cameron’s older sister, Brooke … At this point, Horak is likely going to run a 6-2 lineup because she said she doesn’t have the height to run a 5-1. How that will evolve over the season remains to be seen. Northwest’s three non-district tournaments are Grapevine, the one it shares with Byron Nelson and Arlington.

The Lady Texans open district Sept. 13 against Richland. The district schedule is set up to where Northwest will play Carroll and Keller in consecutive matches.

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