Volleyball: Lady Trojans out to end drought
Longtime South Houston volleyball coach Deana Garza was hoping that a dash of club experience and UIL realignment, which contracted the district, would vault her players into the postseason.
Unfortunately, it didn't happen.
But the Lady Trojans did see some modest gains, netting a couple more victories and avoiding going 0-fer in district thanks to an offense that saw steady improvement over the course of the season.
"I had a really good group of seniors," Garza said. "It's just that everybody else had a better group."
This year's group will try once again to end a playoff drought now 11 years long, but once again they'll be behind the curve when it comes to experience — both at the varsity and club levels.
South Houston graduated seven seniors, including outside hitters Karen Cantu and Perla Preza and setter Annesa Rios. They'll have seven more seniors this season, but only one is a varsity returner.
That player is senior middle blocker Akira Decoud, who's joined by juniors MB Deanna Camry and setter Selena Reyna.
Garza expects Decoud to step up as the team's top returner, and she's showing signs she's ready.
"So far she's definitely been a leader, through the scrimmages," Garza said. "She's playing well and she's also getting to play with her younger sister (Chelsie), who's one of my three sophomores."
Camry is the lone player who picked up some club volleyball experience last year, which helped her confidence.
"That's the most I've had a kid play club ever, and even that little bit of her playing definitely benefited her," Garza said.
Camry didn't play club ball this summer but she's continued to improve. Whereas in the past she had trouble staying in on the front row, she's more well-rounded now and could see time outside.
"Her confidence got built up from playing those (club) games, so I'm hoping that will carry over with our team, to help her have a better self-worth on the court," Garza said.
"She was really young (last year)."
Camry boasts a nice vertical and a passion for the game, making her a key player wherever she ends up, especially since South Houston is heavy in the middle this year.
"I have a really weird roster this year," Garza said. "I actually have four people who can play middle, and I don't know who is going to be my middle, so right now we're doing a weird lineup and whoever's there gets to play it until I can figure out who's going to be the most effective at that position."
Reyna's also a vital component to the team's success. The Lady Trojans' are struggling on serve-receive early, and she's been working hard to cover as much ground as possible in the scrimmages.
"So far, in these two scrimmages, she has been playing out of her mind," Garza said. "She's been awesome. She's all over the place. She really hustles.
"She's my strongest player and my fastest player."
The Lady Trojans scrimmage Channelview, Santa Fe, Dayton and Sweeny, all of which gave them trouble. They opened the season Tuesday against Texas City.
They return to action this weekend at 6:30 p.m. on Friday at Ball, which they swept in three sets last season.
"All of them are good serving teams and pretty good hitting teams, so we are still struggling with our serve-receive and being faster on our offense," Garza said about her team's scrimmage play.
"Those are the things that we're going to concentrate on so when we actually start district we'll hopefully have made a positive impact in being able to change that, make our offense stronger and faster."
Local Advertising by PaperG