Lady Spartans looking to return to playoffs
Julie Williams first season leading the Centennial volleyball program was a rough one.
But Williams is hopeful and even a bit excited about the upcoming season thanks in part because of the influx of talented players from last year’s junior varsity team that posted a 22-5-2 record.
“I’m excited,” Williams said. “I have seen a lot of good things from them. I’m hopeful that we will have success this season.”
Last season, the Spartans missed the playoffs for the first time in school history. Centennial finished with an overall record of 10-25 and District 5-5A mark of 4-10.
Team chemistry could be a key for the squad this season.
“They love playing volleyball,” Williams said. “They love being around each other, they have good chemistry and that has me excited.”
Centennial’s roster will feature 14 players. Williams said the depth gives her some advantages but also means she has more players that will be looking for playing time.
Four players return from last year’s squad :senior middle blocker Haley Hock, senior right-side hitter Bella Russell, senior defensive specialist Haley Hunnicut and junior middle blocker Savoria Anderson.
In the past season, the Lady Spartans have been known for their defense. Centennial will still be stingy on defense but Williams said they will be much stronger on offense this season.
“All of our hitters can put the ball away and I’m talking about being able to smoke the ball,” Williams said. “They can get up and rip a ball. Our defense is still going to good be but I think we have a lot of offensive power.”
Getting the offense going will be the task of setters Gabby Hurley, a junior, and sophomore Bailey Lasater who started for the junior varsity last season.
“I think they will do well for us,” Williams said. “They are both good setters.”
Playing in the middle along with Hock and Anderson will be sophomore Anissa Zaragoza. This unit could be strength for the Lady Spartans, Williams said.
Williams has been impressed with Zaragoza’s play in scrimmages.
The most talent on the team could be at outside hitter with juniors Kelsey Hutchins and Mikaela Johnson and sophomores Anne Johnson and Bryanna
Rosario. Johnson has played well in scrimmages, Williams said.
“We have some talent on the outside who can play all the way around which helps out,” Williams said.
At right-side hitter, Russell has shown the ability to put balls down and senior Paula Nolan, who is returning after a year off, is a strong blocker and hitter.
With so many players having the ability to play all around the court, the Lady Spartans have three defensive specialists on the roster in Hunnicut and juniors Kaitlyn Keller and Libbie Mayfield, who played for the junior varsity last season.
The Lady Spartans open non-district play today at the Mansfield ISD Methodist Mansfield Medical Center Invitational with pool play games.
Centennial starts District 5-5A Sept. 13 hosting arch-rival Burleson.