Volleyball preview: Mansfield Timberview has senior with new skills

Posted Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Mansfield Timberview coach Beth Wills said after 26 years she’s still excited about the start of a new volleyball season.

She’s spent the last 11 of those 26 years coaching as head coach at Timberview and said what gets her enthused toward the end of every summer is how hard athletes have worked to improve.

“You can see it in them,” she said. “I like to think I still have the fire, but it’s sure not physical anymore. I have to leave the demonstrations of diving and rolling to my assistants.”

The Wolves, after losing to Colleyville Heritage in the area round of the playoffs last year, are poised for more success as the 2014 volleyball season opens Monday with several games, including Southlake Carroll against Richardson Pearce.

It will be new coach Ryan Mitchell’s debut for the Dragons, who reached the Class 5A state semifinals last season.

Timberview plays Saginaw Boswell on Tuesday and will do so with a restocked team after the graduation of seven seniors a year ago.

That makes outside hitter Kalin Barnes, a Star-Telegram Super Team selection last year, the key ingredient to bringing the program to a new level.

Barnes worked her way through the spring with a libero spot in select volleyball, something she said gave her a new appreciation for the outside hitter spot.

“In working at the hitter position; I now try to work the ball where I wouldn’t normally be on defense,” she said. “When you’re playing the libero spot, it gives you ideas on where a hitter can play different shots.”

For Wills, Barnes’ opportunity to play on a select team is rare.

Teaching is still the name of the game for the Timberview coach, whose players don’t typically get the opportunity to play club volleyball in contrast to other standout teams.

“There are a number of reasons why; for one, it’s expensive to do all the traveling,” Wills said. “We have a few that get out and do it, but mostly it’s up to us and our practice to help them improve.”

Wills said the 5-foot-6 Barnes’ lack of height is overblown, because her jumping ability is without question.

She had 294 kills last season, which made up almost 20 percent of Timberview’s offense. And Barnes stayed on the floor for all six rotations, picking up 494 digs on defense.

“Some coaches worry about her height,” Wills said. “She’s worked hard to develop other shots and work the ball down the line. She’s explosive off the floor and has all the tools to be a great hitter at this level and the next.”

Timberview, which spent some time this summer at Abilene Christian’s camp, will shift players around to fill gaps and try to gain some versatility.

Outside hitter Courtnie Perry has moved to middle blocker, and Armaria Wright will work into the setter’s role.

“Ball control is the key for us,” Wills said. “We have to improve on our serve-receive numbers from last season and any time we get a touch, we have to be consistent.”

The team’s serve-receive passer rating was 2.71 last season, which translated into 1,592 kills.

Teams to watch

•  Arlington: Colts swept both bi-district and area round before being shown the door in regional quarterfinal in 2013.

•  Trophy Club Nelson: Returns a core group, including district MVP, that made it to regional quarterfinals last year.

•  Southlake Carroll: New coach for team that reached the state semifinals last season.

•  Aledo: Advanced to the regional semifinals.

•  Arlington Lamar: Three returning starters from team that lost to Southlake Carroll in bi-district round.

•  Saginaw Boswell: Promising team last season that picked bad day to play worst game in area round loss to Granbury.

•  Granbury: Looking to make that final step to the state tournament after losing to Amarillo in regional final last year.

Players to watch

•  Anna Walsh, Colleyville Heritage: Last season’s Star-Telegram player of the year returns, rotating through all six positions.

•  Aubrey Ezzell, Granbury: Strong server and outside hitter who had hitting percentage close to 40 percent last season with 250 kills.

•  Maddie Jones, Colleyville Heritage: Second on the team in kills last season with 385 and a strong defensive player.

•  Amy Vandegriff, Saginaw: Has 802 digs in last three years for the Rough Riders.

•  Haley Tippett, Trophy Club Nelson: Was all-state last season with 501 kills and 40 serving aces.

•  Madison Goings, Aledo: Sophomore has solidified herself as a top outside hitter in Class 5A.

•  Cameryn Zahradnik, Keller: The sophomore was district newcomer of the year for the Indians.

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