The Byron Nelson volleyball team will lose its top offensive player this year with the graduation of outside hitter Haley Tippett, but the Lady Bobcats and coach Libby Pacheco appear to have just the remedy.
Freshman Sanaa Barnes, who recently finished second at state in the high jump event in track and field, will move into a more prominent offensive role for the volleyball team this season, and Pacheco said Barnes is working hard to improve her game.
“This past year, she was pretty new, and she was trying to get her feet under her,” Pacheco said. “In the off season, she's got a really, really good club team that has qualified for nationals. She's got lots of touches and she's become a smarter player. She's done all of that and still been able to compete at a high level in track.”
Pacheco said it is very helpful to have an athlete on the volleyball team who has won a medal at state in an event like the high jump.
“Obviously, from an athletic perspective, any time you can have someone with that kind of jumping ability on the volleyball court is nice,” Pacheco said. “But to have someone that has competed on a large stage like that is huge, because she'll be able to handle the pressure situations even as a sophomore.”
Pacheco said that Barnes' role on the team this year has already been determined.
“Because we are losing our best offensive player in Haley Tippett, we are definitely looking for someone who can put the ball down,” Pacheco said. “She's a great offensive threat. She knew that we were going to have that role available. She's risen to the challenge and worked hard in the offseason and I think she is going to be a serious offensive threat for us.”
Barnes said she has been really impressed with the Nelson volleyball program and said she tries to bring a couple of things to the team.
“When I am playing on the court, I am hoping to be a positive influence on the team and do as much as I can to help others overcome whatever tension and stress we are going through at that time,” Barnes said. “Like, if we're down a couple of points, I would like to be the one that gets that positive attack that helps get us back on our feet and helps us to push through and win the game.”
Barnes said she had somewhat mixed feelings about her performance at the state track and field meet.
“It was great, but at the same time, it was a little disappointing,” Barnes said. “I know I have the potential to get over 5-8 and win the whole thing. So I am excited to see what the future holds for me.”
Barnes said that competing in the high jump has definitely helped her with volleyball in a couple of ways.
“It helps me a lot with my vertical,” Barnes said. “It also helps me to compete throughout the year. Missing a jump is just like having a bad game, and you are learning to fight through your mistakes.”
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