Road trip to Abilene should help Lady Elks
With six players returning and eight newcomers on Burleson’s volleyball roster, this weekend’s trip to Abilene for the Bev Ball Classic could be considered a team building exercise of sorts.
Lady Elks coach D’Anna Newton loves the opportunity the tournament gives her team to bond while playing a lot of high-caliber volleyball.
“We will get in a bunch of games and be able to spend a lot of time together,” Newton said. “It will be fun for the girls and a good team bonding experience. It will also give the coaches a chance to work on different rotations.”
Burleson opened its season Tuesday night at Stephenville with a 16-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-16 loss.
Last season, the Lady Elks went 17-24 overall and 9-6 in District 9-5A play. Burleson fell in its playoff opener to Waxahachie.
Newton welcomes back three seniors to the fold in middle blockers Sarah Reid and Jailah Ivory, and defensive specialist Kirstie Gonterman. Reid was the 9-5A
Blocker of the Year and Ivory was the 9-5A Newcomer of the Year. Gonterman was an honorable mention selection.
Also back are junior defensive specialists Kyliegh Rich and Kyra Smith, along with outside/right side hitter Emily Howell.
“It’s a good mix,” Newton said. “We are going to be young, but we also have experience that is returning to the team.”
Newton will augment her returning players with three juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen.
Juniors joining the varsity this season will be right side hitters Kaitlyn Hammit and Kennedy Moore, and setter Madi Lewis. Outside hitter Ellie Strebeck, right side hitter Maddie Gregory and libero Mckayla Davidson are all sophomores who can make a difference.
Freshman players Mia Smalls and Emily Rich might just be the future of the program. Both Smalls, a setter, and Emily Rich, an outside hitter, could be fixtures on the varsity for four years.
“Our young players are going to keep getting better and better,” Newton said. “The main thing with so much youth on the roster is play together and get in as many reps as we can. Defense is going to be a plus for us.”
One thing the Lady Elks have is height and offensive potential.
“Hitting is our strength,” Newton said. “We are such a big team and have so much height. Our hitting is really strong and now it is just about placing the ball depending on where their defense is located.”
The Lady Elks open district play Sept. 8 at Crowley.