The varsity volleyball season starts early in the summer and if it’s up to Fossil Ridge’s Tori Woogk, preparation is already underway.
Woogk is returning in the fall for her fourth year on the varsity court for the Lady Panthers and she knows that making an impact on the district standings requires work to be put in over the summer. She’s determined that she and her fellow Fossil Ridge teammates will turn a few heads this year.
Ridge finished last season in a tie for the final playoff spot but had to stay home due to losing the head-to-head tiebreaker with Central.
With tryouts starting on Aug. 3 this year, there’s not much time to get ready for the coming season.
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Woogk, though, among others, is playing select for an under-18 team which has qualified for a national tournament.
The Tejas 17.1 team will be in New Orleans at the end of the month to compete against talent from across the country.
All that varsity and club team experience will hopefully pay dividends this season, Woogk said.
“We’ve shown steady progression since my freshman year and the new coaching definitely has faith in us,” Woogk said. “The skills have gone sky-high.”
Helping to make all the skills gel into a competitive team is third-year coach Jennifer Chandler.
Woogk acknowledged the experience Chandler brings to Ridge after leading schools such as Mansfield Legacy.
“We didn’t do much winning,” Woogk said of Ridge prior to Chandler’s arrival. “She has given us confidence and made us smarter as players and has given us character lessons weekly which have brought us closer as a team and helped us bond on and off the court. She cares about us as people, not just as players.”
Pushing those skills even higher, Woogk said she’ll be involved in practices and games three times a week over the summer. That should help get her and others in great condition and be mentally and physically ready as soon as the first whistle blows in early August.
“This will be a big season for Ridge volleyball,” Woogk said. “No one is expecting it, but it will happen. Everyone is getting physically and emotionally prepared.”
The Lady Panthers will have eight returning seniors after losing just three last year.
Normally, Woogk is an outside hitter, but Chandler said Woogk has done whatever is asked of her, including playing other positions.
“She’s been a three-year captain and has had to play multiple positions throughout her career,” Chandler said of Woogk, who has given a verbal commitment to Clemson.
At almost 5-11, Woogk can still take on the defensive specialist position when needed or asked.
“Tori is excited about finishing something she started her freshman year,” Chandler added.
All the work during the summer months is sometimes for self-preservation. Woogk acknowledged that when workouts begin, it will be obvious as to who has been getting ready for the season and who has taken it easy.
“You do the work because you know everyone will be able to tell,” Woogk said. “If you’re playing during the summer, it gives you the upper hand, and if you haven’t touched a ball in two months, people will figure it out real quick.”