In years past, freshmen probably were not close to making Colleyville Heritage’s volleyball roster.
However, this transition year for the Lady Panthers has demanded that first-year coach Hollie Huston mix them in.
Last week, Huston brought up freshman middle blocker Ashley McKillop (5-9) to help the Lady Panthers’ front line. While the results weren’t in wins and losses – Colleyville Heritage is now 11-14 – the adjustment period has been exactly what Huston has hoped.
“Ashley is a fun, spirited kid,” Huston said. “Her work ethic is really infectious. I think the rest of the team is responding to her and she’s responding to them. She’s closing blocks and putting in some big hits and digging and has just been what we were looking for.”
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McKillop joins fellow freshman middle blocker Jill Dickens (5-11) who has been with the team since the season started on Aug. 10. Plus, Huston is looking for as much size as she can for a team that is going to consistently concede height at the net.
More moving parts
Sophomore Lauren Evans has pretty much been the jack of all trades for this team. She spent time between at setter and at middle blocker. Now, she’s returned to playing as an outside hitter.
When junior outside hitter Tatum Ticknor went down to a sprained ankle two weeks ago, Huston had to make several moves. Evans moved over to outside hitter when McKillop was called up. Junior Jordan Lackey has also been seeing time at outside hitter. Plus, this team has been without senior Allison Jackson. Jackson will not be available until the week of Labor Day, Huston said.
As for Ticknor, Huston is hopeful she can return around the same time. However, she said Ticknor was still on crutches last week. So that could be a best-case scenario.
Amid all that, Evans will remain one of the setters. That definitely will require more creativity from Huston with the deployment of her roster.
“It’s definitely complicated, but it makes us hard to scout,” Huston said. “But we’re going to get a strong block on the right side.”
The Lady Panthers played host to Richardson Pearce on Tuesday before traveling to Class 5A power Aledo on Friday.
The Lady Mustangs came out of the Plano tournament feeling pretty good about themselves. They went into it seeded 30th. They came out of it seeded 11th. They played in the championship bracket and collected solid wins over Frisco Liberty, Plano East and private school power Dallas Bishop Lynch. Junior outside hitter Jordan McCalla was named to the all-tournament team.
“I thought we played really well together and stepped up against some major competition,” head coach Kori Cooper said. “It was pretty balanced for us overall, so I liked how we handled everything. We just did a really good job of communicating. I think the Plano tournament is more difficult than Pearland because you don’t get any easy wins.”
Grapevine continued its season on Tuesday against two District 7-6A teams. The Lady Mustangs played host to Richland on Tuesday and play at Coppell on Friday.