After making the postseason for the previous two years, the Timber Creek volleyball team has a few questions to answer in its first season under new leadership.
Erin Wood, a former middle blocker at TCU, steps in as the Lady Falcons’ new head coach this year and takes over a program on an upward trajectory.
That arc may have leveled off, following the graduation of six solid players. But the talent in the pipeline is strong.
The Lady Falcons return just four from the varsity squad last year with only two seniors. Those seniors, Sara Shivers and Erika Costain, will take on much of the leadership needed for a return trip to the playoffs.
Shivers has the chance to shine at middle blocker, while Costain, at outside hitter, will be given the opportunity to make a name for herself, after playing behind the Star-Telegram’s Super Team player Lauren Mills last year.
The team will be young, no doubt, but not without proven ability.
Sophomore Caitlin Cosby will return at libero while Allison Shannon, also a sophomore, will move up onto the varsity court at setter.
Although Wood has hardly had an opportunity to see her full team in a true workout regimen until earlier this week, she also has high expectations for junior Brianna Mendez and incoming freshman Catherine Mudd.
Coming in new to the successful program at Timber Creek, Wood didn’t have preset expectations as to the style of the team she would inherit. She has also relied on the input and continuity from her assistant coaches. They have provided assessments of players’ progress and strengths displayed until Wood’s arrival.
“We’ll work with the strengths we have,” she said. “I didn’t have any preconceived concept of what we’d be. We’re going in with the talent and strengths we have.”
Wood also said prior to their first practices on Monday that she’s over the anxiousness and is now just in an excitement mode.
“I’m impressed with what I’ve seen,” Wood said.
The excitement is embraced by the players as well as the coach.
“We’re excited for the new coach,” Shivers said. “She has new things to offer and coming from a school like TCU, we know she knows volleyball.
“She’s got a great sense of humor and is young and she can easily relate to us,” Shivers added.
On the other end of the spectrum, sophomore Shannon had yet to meet Wood prior to workouts, but her anticipation is high for making contributions.
“Four of the seniors were setters,” Shannon noted, “so I’ll have my chance this year. I’m nervous but I’m ready.”
Shivers knows the influx of new players will take some acclimation but she’s looking forward to the bonding opportunities such as long bus rides and late-night games.
“We’ll have a lot of newer, younger girls this week,” Shivers said. “Some of the incoming freshmen will be new players and a lot of the JV players will step up.”
Shannon said the goals are at least as high for this year.
“We made it to the first round of the playoffs last year. That’s the goal – to make it to the playoffs.”