Expectations loom large for the Hays Rebel volleyball team in 2018.
Solid depth anchored by a talented group of veteran returning starters give head coach Stephanie Coates confidence as her program aims for a 25-6A title, and perhaps a deep playoff run.
“We’ve got really five solid returning starters that I think are really going to be able to propel our season,” Coates said. “I’ve got great, great expectations for this season.”
Leading the way will be setters Ryann Torres and Sierra Dittmar, libero Kayla Tello and outside hitters Jamie Agnew and Catherine Croft, who return from last year’s squad that reached the postseason.
“This year we would like to win district,” Coates said. “We would like to put ourselves in a good place in the playoffs. Coming in as a first place team is always better than coming in as a third or fourth place team. We would like to go rounds deep in the playoffs.”
Strong team chemistry from the senior class, which includes Tello, Dittmar, Agnew, Croft, as well as Julia Bowen and Ashely Esparza, could provide a key boost to the team’s play at the start of the season. Coates said juniors Sydney Collins and Torres are beginning to take on a larger leadership role.
Outside of the veteran players returning, Coates said freshman Joselyn Roberson, as well as sophomores Madelyn Krafka and Trista Strasser will be relied upon for key playing time throughout the season.
“We do have some young kids that I am really excited about,” Coates stated. “We’ve got Joselyn Roberson, she is a freshman, she is starting for us right now in the middle. We also have Trista Strasser, our big kid, and she will be playing some middle for us as well.”
Hays enters the season with eight players standing over 5-feet, 10-inches in height, including four girls over 6-feet tall. Coates believes that the height across the roster will help out on both offense and defense.
“Being able to play as high above that net as possible allows you to run a faster, stronger game,” Coates said. “For us it also allows us to put up a big block on other opponents. We do play in a very competitive 6A district with Westlake, Lake Travis and Bowie. Being able to play high above the net just gives you one more advantage to play the strongest game that you can play.”
Another key focal point for Hays on the season will be ball control and earning points.
“I think this year we can run the fast tempo, and our fast tempo comes off of our ball control,” Coates said. “We get a good first pass and we are killing the ball almost every single time. So I think if our ball control is there and I think if we continue to run a fast offense, I think that will give us that opportunity to go deep in the playoffs.”
Hays opened the season last week against Leander Rouse; the Rebels head to the Fraulein Volleyfest in New Braunfels this weekend.
“If you want to be the best you’ve got to play the best,” Coates said about Hays preseason schedule. “We don’t just want to be a good team, we want to be a great team.”
The Rebels will host their first home match, as well as open district play, against Del Valle on Aug. 21 at 6 p.m.