NEDERLAND — The Nederland volleyball team is just more than a week away from starting the season, and Head Coach Allie Crommett is anxious to see how her talented bunch reacts to competition.
The team started training camp this week and plays in a scrimmage Aug. 5.
“I am excited,” Crommett said. “Just coming off of last year’s season and the success we had, I feel like we have good expectations. I know we are young, but I feel like we are more skilled than we have been in the past.”
Last year’s squad was undersized and relied on skill and determination to earn a record of 26-7 and 9-3 in district play.
“We are a lot bigger this year,” Crommett said. “I just feel like our expectations are high because of the skill level we have.”
Crommett is leaning on seniors Ava Whitehead and Ava Wiltz for the leadership.
They are both four-year starters with experience for defense and offense.
Audrey Johnson is a senior in her third year.
“She is stepping in to the setter role that Kamren Savarino had last year,” Crommett said.
“She has been more vocal than Kamren was. She is more comfortable with moving people around and letting them know that she is going to set them this or that. I think that has helped.”
Whitehead said summer work went well.
“I think we have gotten better, even over the past few days,” she said. “I think we will be even better once we start getting back into it. I expect us to be pretty successful.”
The coach is ready to see two sophomores take on bigger roles this season.
Reagan Friesz and Maysa Arnold saw some playing time as freshmen, but Crommett said she is ready to see the underclassmen take on more responsibilities.
“For freshmen, the pace of the game from eighth grade to varsity is so different, there was a learning curve,” Crommett said. “Reagan played defense last year and she is a strong, strong server. We relied on her heavily last year to serve when we needed her to. This year she will also step in as a setter. She does a really good job of reading the other side of the court. She is good about telling our hitters where they need to be hitting and where the spots are. Arnold is the biggest kid on our team at 5’11” and is a big presence on the outside. She is probably our most improved player for the team.”
The Bulldogs lost some senior leadership from last season, but Whitehead said she and her teammates have stepped up to fill the void.
“It is a bigger role,” she said. “It is different because I had been with the kids we lost for three years.”
Crommett wants the team to bring home a district championship.
Nederland’s district opponents are similar to last year’s, with the exception of a few teams shuffled in and out with the new alignment.
Nederland’s district dropped Galena Park and Beaumont United and gained the three Baytown schools.
“I think this team has the ability to do it,” she said. “We can’t ride the roller coaster of showing up against one team and not the next. We can’t shy away from competition like Barbers Hill and Crosby.”
Nederland’s first game is against Hargrave at home Aug. 9.
The Bulldogs start district play Sept. 23 against Baytown Lee on the road.