August 5—The Greenville Lady Lions started their first day of volleyball practice on Monday with a mixture of new and familiar faces.
“This morning we had 55 players,” said Lady Lions coach Jenna Sickels. “We had a few more this afternoon. Probably close to 60. Thirty-two of those are freshmen.
“It’s really nice to have the numbers. There’s a lot of good talent. A lot of kids are going to contribute at the varsity, junior varsity and freshman levels.”
Although the Lady Lions lost all-district seniors Brooke Hutchings and Jenna Wade to graduation off last year’s 23-16 team, they return second-team all-district setter Sydney Walker. Walker set for a team-high 505 assists last season plus recorded 133 kills, 40 blocks and 412 digs, second most on the team. She also served for a team-high 44 aces.
Also returning from last year’s team are Ali Johnson, Natalie Gibson, Lindsey Maner, Madison Coyle, Ashlee Robison and Caroline Bowers. Johnson recorded 165 kills, 12 blocks, 16 aces and 155 digs. Robison finished with 62 kills, 19 blocks, 14 aces and 182 digs. Coyle recorded 110 digs, while Bowers finished with 85 digs, Gibson had 32 and Maner had 18. Maner put away 20 kills and Gibson added 18.
The Lady Lions, who placed sixth last year in the district standings, will be competing in District 13-5A against Denison, Lucas Lovejoy, McKinney North, Melissa, Princeton and Sherman.
Lovejoy went 42-6 last season, winning its ninth state title after sweeping both Manvel and Grapevine in straight sets at the state tournament.
McKinney North was 26-9, splitting in two district matches against Lovejoy last season and also advanced three rounds in the Class 5A playoffs.
Melissa was a 26-16 bi-district champion.
Princeton won 21-24, while Sherman was 6-26-1 and Denison was 6-27.
“I think we’re going to compete very well in our district,” said Sickels. “They’re (the Lady Lions) scrappy and they’re playing hard.”
The Lady Lions are scheduled to practice from 9 to 11 am and from 4 to 6 pm daily through Thursday. Then they are scheduled to scrimmage on Friday at Caddo Mills and then at home on Saturday before opening the season on Aug. 11 in the Princeton tournament.
Assisting Sickels with the coaching are Chris Bazor and Edgar Bustillos.