Volleyball: Emotional start for Lady Mavs
The Pasadena Memorial volleyball players will begin the season with heavy hearts next week.
Incoming freshman Amanda Horstman, who attended Bondy Intermediate in Pasadena, suffered an asthma attack just weeks before entering high school, forcing doctors to induce coma.
When she came out of it, there was no brain activity, and the family made the difficult decision to remove life support July 24.
She was buried last week.
To honor Horstman, who was just 14 years old, the Lady Mavericks are dedicating the 2011 season to her.
"She had a lot of potential," Memorial coach Timi Radicioni said.
"She had great work ethic and she was just an overall athlete. She's going to be really missed. She was an up-and-coming star who was a key part of our program."
Family and friends celebrated Horstman's life last week at the South Main Baptist Church in Pasadena, and a Memorial Fund has been established in her name at Gulf Coast Educators Credit Union.
Radicioni said she had a good shot of making the varsity team as a freshman during this week's tryouts. Instead, the Lady Mavericks will be searching for other answers to fill the holes left by graduation.
The program lost six players from the team that returned Memorial to the postseason after a one-year hiatus. They missed the playoffs in Radicioni's first season, snapping a five-year streak of appearances.
They finished up 23-11 overall, placing second in District 22-5A behind Deer Park.
"It was a huge success for us," Radicioni said. "The girls worked really hard.
"They wanted to accomplish that goal of getting back in the playoffs and making a run, continue that school history, and with their hard work and determination we got there."
Key among the departed group were right side Ashley Moren, setter Kate Danner and libero Courtney Waddell, a four-year starter who was at the heart of the Lady Mavericks' success last season.
"The key to our success was defense — defensive coverage and communication," Radicioni said. "That's something that we worked on all offseason, and that first season in 2009, and last year we put it together."
The seven returning players have positive playoff experience to build on after winning a bi-district title and advancing to the area round.
Senior outside hitter Amy Fuller leads the returners, which include junior setter Kirbee Bowman, junior middle blocker Jessica Elkins, senior MB Lily Gonzalez and senior OH Andee Turner.
Fuller is entering her fourth year on varsity. The team's kills leader last season, she'll once again be the focal point of the offense.
"I like her enthusiasm," Radicioni said. "I like her dedication on and off the court. She's just an all-around athlete and academic standout.
"She's a great role model for the entire school."
The 6-foot Gonzalez is entering her second year on varsity. Radicioni said she did a good job in transition last season, cutting off the angles on cross-court shots, and she expects more improvement.
"She's just a great kid," Radicioni said.
"She works really hard every day at practice, she stays after (practice) and she worked hard all summer. She's developed well as a volleyball player so I'm hoping to see good things out of her this season."
Sophomore setter Lindsay Kolacny, who teams with Bowman in the Lady Mavs' 6-2 offense, also returns.
Radicioni said junior Kelsey Reddell, who saw some varsity time as a sophomore is the top candidate to replace Waddell. Sophomore Gwen Christ is the most promising newcomer entering tryouts.
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