Haley Tippett can have her choice in college. She can either play Division I college volleyball inside, or she can do it in the sand.
That sounds like that’s going to be a tough decision, because the college choices are in South Carolina and Florida. Everyone should have such problems. But the three-year starting outside hitter for Byron Nelson has worked between her high school and club seasons to have this opportunity.
Tippett (5-11) is winding down her club season and beginning her sand season. Her club team, Mad Frog Club, will be playing in the national tournament later this month in Minneapolis.
“My focus this club season has been more defensive than offensive and just being more consistent,” Tippett said. “I’m trying to eliminate errors and keep the ball in play.”
Tippett was considered one of the more dominant players in District 5-4A as she helped the Lady Bobcats to a share of the district championship before falling to Granbury in the Region I quarterfinals.
But like any sport, the key to being successful at volleyball – sand or indoors – is about repetitions. The more she has, the more refined her game will become.
“I need to be more consistent with my work and just hitting more consistent and passing more consistent,” she said. “It really is about getting your reps because it will definitely transfer over to the game. You have to do it.”
Tippett understands the scrutiny she faces. When she began play in the sand season, coaches from Stetson came to evaluate her again. Her decision is between the Florida-based school or Coastal Carolina. She has visited both and calls the decision a tough one. But it is a decision that she would like to make by the time fall workouts begin in August.
That also means this fall brings closure to her high school career. It’s also an important time for the Nelson program, because it is moving up to Class 6A where the caliber of competition is deeper.
Nelson coach Libby Pacheco began the transition this past offseason with more intense workouts and preaching a work ethic that every player on her team must have. It seemed like the players got the message.
“We are facing new challenges moving up to 6A, and we are going to rely on experience and court leadership,” Pacheco said. “Haley’s love of the game and commitment will also be a key to our success. We’ll need that because we will face tough competition every time we step on the court.”
But leadership isn’t a concept confined from August through November. It’s constantly nurtured for the other nine months so its value will be recognized in those four months. Tippett is both a captain for Nelson and her club team. Every day, players are looking to her to set the standard.
“I want to make my last year at Nelson a year to remember,” Tippett said. “It’s my last chance to be successful. We’ve played in a lot of situations in the offseason to get us ready. I think the key at 6A is working on our focus and keeping the ball in play so you have more chances to score. We’ll be ready for it.”