Keller Citizen

Nelson senior’s role blows up this fall

When it’s your turn, you better be ready.

Northwest Byron Nelson senior defensive specialist Dani Baas was crunched by a numbers game at her position during the 2015 volleyball season. If she reached the floor one-third of the time, it was a good night.

She won’t have that problem this fall. As this program prepares to enter a far more demanding district (5-6A), Nelson is also trying to make up for the nine seniors who graduated.

Baas (5-4) is expected to be the starting defensive specialist this fall. There’s a chance that could evolve into the starting libero. Time will tell.

“For the past three years, she was playing behind a heavy senior class, so she had to battle,” Nelson coach Libby Pacheco said. “But through the offseason, you could see where she was ready to become a leader and take control of things. Her confidence took off.”

The competition for playing time is really telling for how a coach wants to use her players on the court, especially when she has a hitter who is not a very consistent passer and needs to be substituted for. A defensive specialist is restricted to the three rotations on the back row.

The libero can play all six positions and keep the continuity of a game flowing. Both can be on the floor at the same time. Either way, each can see how the offense is setting up, especially with the outside hitter, who will try to finish with a kill on the outside line.

There can never be enough defense on the court.

Baas’ select team didn’t qualify for nationals, but she didn’t yield in her training. She attends the high school’s performance course four times a week, goes through sand training twice a week and also works with her select team’s positional-based group in another session.

The sand offers incredible work for length, strength and conditioning. Baas never competed in a sand league but recognized its value.

“What it does is make you push yourself harder,” Baas said. “When you want to be successful, you want to give yourself every opportunity to be successful.”

There is hope that the native of Cincinnati can play in college. She’s attended camps at University of Texas-Tyler and will be attending others at West Texas A&M, Southern Miss, St. Edward’s in Austin and the University of North Carolina.

Much of what coaches have seen is through film and with the select team. Camp work will present more to evaluate.

Once the season begins, the pressure to keep the streak alive becomes real. Regardless of its classification, Nelson has advanced to the postseason in all six seasons it has competed as a varsity program.

However, this district is arguably the deepest it will face, led by state power Carroll, Flower Mound, Lewisville Hebron and Flower Mound Marcus. Nelson is going to have to find a way to crack the code. Only four seniors are on the 2016 roster.

“Our slogan is respect all, fear none,” Baas said. “Those teams have lots of skill. But we’re a team that’s willing to put in the work.”