New leadership guides Rebel volleyball in 2019

Two-plus days into preseason practices were enough for first year Hays High head volleyball coach Ashley Davis to gauge the competitiveness of the program she inherited.

While Davis is new to the Rebel volleyball scene, the 12 players who return from last season’s run to the playoffs bring with them a high level of experience. That expertise showed as Davis lauded the equality in talent across the board as preparations for the team’s trip to the John Turner Classic in Pearland continues.

It’s all a welcome sign for Davis who said her transition to leading the Rebels has been smooth thus far.

“They loved their former coach and they’ve accepted me with open arms,” Davis said. “That’s big because it’s necessary for us to win matches early.”

Leading that charge is a handful of senior leaders led by setter Ryann Torres and outside hitter Sydney Collins. Backing them up will be junior middle hitter Trista Strasser, junior right side Maddie Krafka, sophomore middle blocker Joselyn Roberson and junior libero Brooke Sheely, who all saw extensive playing time in 2018.

Davis said help from upperclassmen is an advantage as they’re strong leaders on and off the court, helping to make her transition much easier.

Torres said Davis has been “amazing” and is one of the “most understanding coaches I’ve ever had.” Davis’ “laid back” style is something everyone is onboard with, Torres said. Meanwhile, the familiarity and friendship among the returning players has helped to drive progress on the court.

“Our chemistry has been the same. Our chemistry is really good. The returners, we’ve had a great friendship and that’s never changed. We’ve never had any problems.”

Getting ready for life in the rough and tumble 25-6A will be a goal for the Rebels as they navigate through a challenging slate of pre-district tournaments. Following the Turner Classic, Hays will participate in the Fraulein Volleyfest in New Braunfels followed by the Volleypalooza in Cedar Park. Hays opens district play Aug. 30 against Del Valle.

Finding out their system and what strategies work for the program are tenets Davis will work on as they march into district play. They’ll be tasked with taking on favorites Bowie, Lake Travis and Westlake in the race for playoffs.

Torres said consistency is what’s needed for Hays this season.

“Having that consistency of working hard in practice. That’s what we kind of lacked last year,” Torres said. “Just being self-disciplined and making sure of what we need to do on the court.”

Hays hosts 5A powerhouse Dripping Springs Aug. 13 at 6:30 p.m.

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