When Kori Cooper abruptly left the Grapevine volleyball program for Cedar Park in January, it left many confused and wondering why someone would make a move. It wasn’t like this program was about to rebuild.
It was quite the opposite.
The Lady Mustangs were coming off a historic 2015. They went 33-17 and were one game away from advancing to the Class 5A state tournament. They lost to Canyon Randall in the regional finals in five games. Grapevine won the first games.
But enter alum Whitney Woody (Johansen). Woody spent the previous two seasons at Burleson Centennial and took advantage of the opportunity to return to the place where it all started. Woody coached against her alma mater in the Class 5A Region I area playoff round in 2015.
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Woody was hired in March and didn’t really get to spend too much time with her new team until May. But it was enough to know that the Lady Mustangs are one of the top Class 5A teams in Texas. Grapevine is definitely a state title contender.
What Woody had to do was mix in whatever she could to make sure that her team could make the disappointing finish a memory.
“We talked about [the loss to Randall] during the spring,” Woody said. “It was a sore subject. They know how bad that tasted. These girls work hard and have been putting in the effort to get ready. I think time will tell what the development will be. But I think we’ve gotten off to a good start communicating with each other. We’re taking the right steps.”
Head coach: Whitney Woody (1st season)
2015 record: 33-17 (lost to Canyon Randall in 5A Region I finals)
Starters returning: 7
Notable: Woody played at Grapevine under Diane Wilson from 1999-2002 … has taken teams to the playoffs in all six of her seasons as a head coach (four at Fort Worth Arlington Heights, two at Burleson Centennial) … there are 12 letter winners returning from the 2015 team … the offense should play at a fast pace have plenty of options between sophomore outside hitter Symone Wesley and senior outside hitter Jordan McCalla …
Wesley (5-9) may be one of the more talented players in Class 5A … the middle will have two strong answers between senior Hailey Johnson and sophomore Nicole Buhr … Woody plans on keeping the 6-2 alignment in place between sophomore Anna Johnson and senior Hannah Merrick … by the way, Hailey and Anna Johnson are sisters … the defense is led by senior defensive specialist Madison Lawler. Lawler will also play at the libero spot … McCalla has verbally committed to St. John’s in New York City. Lawler has committed to the University of Southern Mississippi …
Woody estimates her roster could max out at 15 spots … preseason tournaments are at Pearland (2016 Adidas Texas Volleyball Invitational), the Northwest ISD tournament and the PSA tournament in Plano...the District 8-5A race should be a battle between the two GCISD teams in the Lady Mustangs and Colleyville Heritage. Grapevine likely will get the nod because of the experience it has returning. There should come a push from Richland and Birdville, at least for the other two playoff spots.