A new era at Northwest began on Monday, as Amy Gaston made her debut as the varsity volleyball coach. Gaston replaces Dayna Horak, who retired from coaching. Horak spent eight seasons running the Northwest program and guiding the Lady Texans to the playoffs in six seasons.
However, the program became burdened by bi-district playoff frustration. Last year, Northwest seemed to have the team that was ready to make the push beyond the bi-district round. However, the Lady Texans were stunned by North Crowley.
Gaston, who spent the previous five seasons at Canyon Randall as the No. 1 assistant, has her first head coaching assignment. She had all spring to implement her style of play.
Her passion is already rubbing off on the program. But Gaston admits it will be a different world once she starts Aug. 14 at the Texas Invitation Tournament in Pearland.
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“I’ll be nervous and there will be questions about getting it done,” Gaston said. “But this is what I wanted to do.”
Gaston is going to preach hard work with this team throughout the season. The group is good enough to return to the postseason. But there’s also some youth that doesn’t make it a lock, either.
“I’m not just asking that of them,” Gaston said. “They’re going to see me working really hard, to the point where I’m exhausted.’’
Coach: Amy Gaston (1st season)
2013 record: 29-14, 11-3 in district; lost in Class 5A Region I bi-district to North Crowley
Returning starters: Sr. Tessa Harfield (6-1), OH; So. Camryn Berryhill (5-11), OH; So. Morgan Baker (5-4), S
Key players: Jr. Tatum Talley (5-7), DS; Sr. Christine Ruybalid (5-2) DS; So. Katelyn Clark (6-1), MB; Jr. Samantha Stalnaker (5-7) OH/MB
Notable: The front line for the Lady Texans should be one of the strengths of this team with Harfield and Berryhill ... Harfield has committed to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and should be the point person to the offense ...
• Gaston has said Northwest will run a 6-2. Baker seems to have one of the positions down. However, freshmen Analise Lucio, Fr. and Oakley O’Dell are names to watch. They were coming off strong seasons in middle school and strong offseason work with the Lady Texans. Gaston is preaching competition within the team, so players will push each other to reach different performance levels.
• The right side of this team doesn’t have the height, but Gaston likes the athleticism so she thinks the likes of Stalnaker will compensate ... Gaston made one change to the non-district schedule as she was able to land a spot in the season opening Texas Invitational tournament in Pearland. “We’re probably going to learn some tough lessons that it takes to be among the best in 6A,” she said. “But I think that where we are in where we are in August to where we are later in the year.”
• After that, Northwest will co-host its own tournament with Byron Nelson and then travel to the Arlington Classic ... The Lady Texans should be a playoff team in District 5-6A. But they will battle the likes of Nelson, Keller Central and Denton Guyer.