Small changes, big dreams in new season for Lady Rebs

Effort is something Hays Rebel head volleyball coach Stephanie Coates knows doesn’t show up on the stat sheet.

By improving effort on the little things, Coates believes it could add up in a big way to help Hays not only reach a higher level of play, but potentially compete for a district title in 2017.

Leading the Rebels is a core group of returning outside and middle hitters that have varsity-level experience. Seniors Kaitlyn Krafka and Kacie Hall, as well as juniors Catherine Croft and Jamie Agnew, who are all 5-feet, 10-inches or taller, each saw action on the court last year.

The group will be tasked with replacing the play of Hailee Morton and Mackenzie Coates, who both graduated over the summer.

In the back row, junior libero Kayla Tello and defensive specialist Morgan O’Donnell aim to fill the void left by graduates Anise LaHue and Ashley Slovak. Coates said Croft and Krafka could see action on the back row due to their defensive and offensive capabilities. 

Hays Rebel Kaitlyn Krafka drives the ball past a defender during a scrimmage Saturday at Hays High. Photo by Moses Leos III

“It’s been a seamless transfer because they aren’t first year players, even though they are now starting to carry the load,” Coates said. “I don’t think we’ve taken a step back at all, even having some young kids at some positions.”

Depth is an asset that’s so far helped the Rebels during practice. Coates believes the Rebels are three-deep in a lot of positions. It’s also helped spur competition on the team, Coates said.

“The girls at the top of the depth chart know they don’t play their best at all times, there’s someone behind them that’s barking at their heels,” Coates said.

Along with the depth is the height that comes with it. Coates said the Rebels’ size may allow them to to compete against top tier opponents in the state.

That includes in-district foes Westlake and Lake Travis, which have dominated district play the last few seasons.

“We play 6A volleyball and size is an issue,” Coates said. “We really have tried to bring that size along, to where we could get where we want and have some kids with some ball control, even though they are big kids.”

The Rebels plan to work speeding up the offense when they head to Pearland for the 2017 John Turner Volleyball Classic. Hays will face off against Waco Midway, Houston Bellaire and Katy Cinco Ranch in pool play.

In addition, the Rebels plan to work on their offensive and defensive patterns, along with passing and serving.

“When we look at Rouse, Dripping Springs or Westlake that have big hitters on the other side, we’re looking to affect their offense,” Coates said. “We’re taking some risks now (with serving) early to try to get to the point where we’re serving that tough.”

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