Lady Bobcats grappling with tragedy and change

Posted Monday, Aug. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Hearts have been heavy in the Byron Nelson volleyball program.

Just a few weeks ago, junior varsity volleyball player Aubrey McNeill, a freshman, was killed in a car accident on her way to a practice.

The incident occurred while the varsity Lady Bobcats were at the Pearland tournament. It’s times like these when Byron Nelson’s 6-10 record entering the week seem inconsequential.

“It’s been really tough for all of us,” Nelson coach Libby Pacheco said. “Aubrey had made our junior varsity team and was going to really help add to our program. We’ve all played with broken hearts. We’ve had a tough time getting through.”

As emotional as it has been, the team seemed to put it in perspective. The Lady Bobcats finished fifth at the Northwest ISD Classic this past weekend.

The court has had its own share of challenges. With two of last year’s front line players in Eva Koster and Bailey Bunce not returning, the team has had to find different ways to come up with some offense.

It’s really hurt, because Pacheco doesn’t have a lot of options. She hasn’t changed anything with junior outside hitter Haley Tippett. But she’s been a little creative with senior middle blocker Elizabeth Pennington.

Things can change, but Pacheco’s early thinking is that she doesn’t want to have both Pennington and Tippett on the same line. She needs Pennington to play some outside hitter.

“I’ve asked her to get out of her comfort zone and play on the outside, and she has had a lot of fun doing it,” Pacheco said. “We’re young and inexperienced. But I think what we did at our tournament went great for us.”

Pacheco is still looking for a third scorer. That choice appears to be senior middle blocker Sarah Borcik.

“She’s becoming a big player and come through with some clutch moments for us,” Pacheco said. “She’s getting a lot of confidence. Originally, she wasn’t going to be expected to score when she got on varsity. But she’s worked to put herself in this position.”

Defensive decisions

Pacheco believes she has settled on a libero and a setter. Youth will be served at each position.

For setter, Pacheco is going with sophomore Delaney Duis. At libero, it will be sophomore Tori O’Connor.

“We’re going to be running a 5-1 with Delaney,” Pacheco said. “There was some experimentation with the 6-2. But really, Delaney has great hands and is just a really good decision maker. She just does a great job of getting balls to the right people.

“With Tori, she just seemed like a natural for the position and adjusted to the speed of the game. What I like the most is that she’s really good at the serve receive game. That’s an area where we’ve struggled at the start. But she’s tough-minded. When she makes an error, she’s hard to rattle.”

Northwest update

Dayna Horak’s program is off to a solid 12-4 start that has culminated with the consolation championship at the Northwest ISD Classic. Senior Kayla Knaust is leading the way with 123 kills, followed by Tessa Harfield’s 97.

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