Lady Warriors senior trio adapting to leadership role on volleyball court

Posted Tuesday, Sep. 10, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Hannah Nicholas stands out on a volleyball court. The 6-foot-3 right-side hitter is one of the top players on a Martin team that’s looking to win the District 3-5A title and make a deep playoff push to regionals and, the Lady Warriors hope, beyond.

But in the past, she’s mostly let her play do all the talking. Now, as one of Martin’s only three seniors, Nicholas is working on supplementing her lead-by-example leadership with a more vocal approach.

“I’m normally quieter,” Nicholas said. “I’m the quiet one on the team. But when I’m on the court, I try to be as loud as I can.”

In fact, none of the three seniors are exactly chatter boxes, coach Tracy Perez-Petersen said. But the consistency and reliability of the trio of Nicholas, libero Molly Garbo and outside hitter Alexis Wright give the Lady Warriors a chance to exceed last season’s success, Perez-Petersen said. Martin, which opens district play Friday against Bowie, finished runner-up in district in 2012 to first-place Arlington and reached the second round of the playoffs.

“I just think all three of them play a big role in our success,” the coach said. “Just the expectations for them to be there and do their job is really big for our team. They all have a lot to offer on the court.”

Garbo offers stellar defense and Wright brings explosiveness. And what Nicholas is bringing has been a bit of a surprise to Perez-Petersen: “Hannah Nicholas has been more of a leader than I ever thought. Molly and Alexis — people expect them to be leaders. Hannah’s done a really nice job of speaking up. They’re getting there.”

Martin is also trying to develop into a more consistent team. The Lady Warriors opened the season with an 18-9 record, but that included losses in tournament games that the seniors and their coach indicated were winnable games. The team, they said, must perform better, especially in the critical areas of passing and defense.

“I think we have a lot of talent,” Nicholas said. “We have a lot of young players that are really talented, too. I think we all need to be disciplined in practice and work our hardest.”

Martin underwent a particularly spirited morning practice on Labor Day in a small, humid practice gym. Practices are normally done in the main gym, which feels less hot and confined. But the hard practice in stuffier quarters got the team’s attention, Wright said.

“It reminds us that we still have work to do,” said Wright, a University of North Texas recruit. “We’re already improving.”

Garbo is enjoying the experience of being a senior but concedes that it’s a bit strange pointing out other players’ mistakes and helping them make adjustments. The third-year varsity player, after all, spent the past two years being critiqued and corrected by Perez-Petersen and previous senior classes.

“You’ve seen more, so you can guide people in the right direction,” Garbo said. “But you’ve got to make yourself. It’s hard. Going from listening to seniors to being one is difficult, but Coach P does a really good job of talking to us about how to do that.”

The seniors spent the summer preparing for their final high school season. They worked out and practiced together and spent time imagining what the season would have in store and what each of them would need to do to become players.

“We had a senior sleepover and talked about the team and things we could improve on,” Nicholas said.

Now, as district play begins, Nicholas and her fellow seniors hope they’re soon able to talk about the experience of carrying their team to great heights.

“I’m excited for the season to see what we can bring out in the team,” Nicholas said. “I think we’re trying to be different [than last year’s seniors] and be the role model to the younger players.”

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