Volleyball practices around the state began this week, and there’s not much time before teams like L.D. Bell will know where they stand in preparation for the coming season.
With workouts starting on Aug. 1, the first scrimmages are just four days away and the season begins in earnest on Aug. 8.
When Keller Fossil Ridge arrives at the Bell gym, Lady Blue Raiders head coach Jinni Walker said the match against the first of many playoff teams from a year ago will be a good barometer of where the Lady Raiders stand.
But the Keller squad believes it’s in for its best season in nearly two decades, having implemented an offseason program that its coach doesn’t want to talk about.
“This can be a good preseason barometer and give us some confidence. There should be some close matches and we can pull out some wins,” Walker said.
Last season, Bell traversed the non-district schedule with about a .600 record.
Then the reality of competing in one of the strongest districts around reared its ugly head. The league was packed with the eventual state champion Hebron, Southlake Carroll and a group of three teams tied for the final playoff spot.
The challenging district slate left the Lady Blue Raiders with more injuries and experiences than victories. Hopefully those experiences can be redeemed for wins this season.
“I want the girls to be in a growth mindset,” Walker said. “We need to be growing and learning this year. We need to learn from our adversity and turn it into positives.”
Bell will have a good supply of returning players who will look to translate those experiences into victories including four seniors.
“I’m excited for the kids. I’ve watched them grow and they’re feeling confident,” Walker said. “I want them to be excited to be a Raider volleyball player. We are a talented team but by no means are there shoo-ins for all the spots.
“The girls still have to mesh and build the chemistry that’s so important and to find the right home for everybody off the bench,” Walker said.
While the goal is always to make the playoffs, the realistic objective would be a first for the players. None of the current roster have made the postseason during their high school careers.
After the tournament in Mansfield, Bell will also compete in another three-day tournament in Granbury before concluding with the Arlington Invitational.
Then, the treacherous district schedule will be yet another barometer for the Lady Raiders.