A new approach to the offseason program has yielded better results for the Keller Fossil Ridge volleyball team, and the buzz around the team is that 2017 could be its best season yet.
While coach Hollie Huston is not talking specifics about the changes she and her coaching staff made, she said is confident her team can accomplish great things this year.
“This is my 15th year as a head coach, and I’ve never seen greater gains in the off-season then I did this past one,” Huston said. “Once teams are made, I think we’ll be able to credit the hard work of several of our players for their placement. It may take us a little bit to get our chemistry going, but I am excited about our potential this year as well as our future.”
The Lady Panthers finished fourth in District 3-6A and lost to Fort Worth Paschal in the bi-district round last year, but most important was that the team made the playoffs for the first time in its past 17 attempts.
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“Last year was such a great season,” Huston said. “With any season, we had our ups and downs, but they reached their goals in spite of them. I think the team was one of the most cohesive I’ve ever coached. I think there was a lot of untapped potential. We had lots of players last year who had been on varsity but not seen a lot of court time. Last year was their year to shine.”
Huston said she has two returning starters she expects to lead the way for the Lady Panthers this year, along with strong supporting players and very good depth.
“Center Cass Zellmer has shown incredible games in the offseason,” Huston said. “Cass got a lot of great experience in the spring and it has really propelled her level of play. We will look to her to make great offensive decisions on the court this year. Ysa Rosas has also seen incredible gains in the offseason and is returning to us as a defensive specialist with the potential to set if we decide to let Cass swing.”
Middle blocker Ashley Sinku, who saw significant playing time in 2016, is also returning this season.
“We see Ashley as much more of an impact player this year as a junior,” Huston said.
Huston said that Brianna Gonzalez will make the move from outside to middle hitter as well.
“Bri is a really strong hitter with good lateral movement,” Huston said.
We have really good chemistry. Incoming varsity players and returners have gotten really close.
Zellmer was a first-team all-district selection last season, and she believes this year’s team is one of the most cohesive units of which she has been a part.
“We have really good chemistry. Incoming varsity players and returners have gotten really close,” Zellmer said.
Rosas, an honorable mention district selection in 2016, said she is feeling optimistic about her team’s chances this year.
“I am very excited about the upcoming season, knowing that every player has been putting in extra work and has enough heart to push us further into the playoffs,” Rosas said.
Ridge will scrimmage Decatur and Birdville this weekend, and Huston said it will be a good opportunity to see some different styles before the regular season begins.
“I’m anxious to see what Decatur will look like under new leadership,” Huston said. “Birdville typically runs a faster offense than we do. It will be good for us to get a look at what our middles can do with that kind of speed early.”
Former Argyle High School coach Clark Oberle is the new head coach at Decatur.