After making the postseason in its first year at the varsity level under Jessica Eickenloff in 2012, the Lady Eagles at Lake Ridge High School failed to do the same under Jessica Tyler in 2013.
“We were definitely young and in a learning year,” Tyler said.
The Lady Eagles finished fifth in their district with a 6-8 record and 11-16 overall, but are strongly pushing for a return trip to the postseason.
“We want to make the playoffs, that's our goal. We want to stay competitive through district and be able to make the playoffs,” Tyler said.
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Tyler's team could bring back the same success it had two years ago by returning 10 players, including senior outside hitter Murielle Hlavac and senior middle blocker Carlise Redmon.
“Murielle led the team in most of the categories and was named Co-Server of the Year in the district,” Tyler said. “Carlise is one of the more dominant front-row players.”
With the Lady Eagles returning so many players, the only two key losses to graduation were Colbi Bennett and Aubrey Johnson, who has continued to play at Jarvis Christian College.
Chemistry will be a great factor going into the year, but Tyler believes by putting in the work, that will give the Lady Eagles a great chance to starting the season strong.
“Our motto is 'Now,' and we want to be focused at our work. We know we'll put in the work in each game and I just want the girls to know that,” Tyler said.
A few other key players returning are setter Erica Styne and outside hitters Bryn Simmons and Lexi Potter.
Sophomore outside hitter Josannah Vazquez and sophomore middle blocker Markenzie Beniot could give the Eagles a big impact this season, Tyler said.
“Josannah played all the way around for us last year, while Markenzie had a huge impact on many games for us,” Tyler said.
The Lady Eagles only get one newcomer in freshman middle blocker Capri Davis.
“We are looking for her to come in and be a huge addition to our front row,” Tyler said.
Tyler took over for Eickenloff, who had a child, and as she enters her second season as coach, she knows this offseason is bigger than last year's.
“It's a big difference this year. Knowing the girls and the program is a big thing,” Tyler said. “They know some of the expectations going into this year and they know the way we do things now.”
Returners: Senior Outside hitter – Murielle Hlavac; Senior Middle Blocker – Carlise Redmon; Junior Setter – Erica Styne; Outside Hitters – Bryn Simmons, Lexi Potter; Sophomore Outside Hitter – Josannah Vazquez; Sophomore Middle Blocker – Markenzie Beniot
Key Players Lost: Colbi Bennett, Aubrey Johnson
Newcomer: Freshman Middle Blocker – Capri Davis