Rayburn out to break streak
By Jason McDaniel
Sam Rayburn finished in sixth place in district last season, keeping it out of the playoffs for the 11th consecutive year. But changes to the UIL's district alignments may help it end its long drought.
La Porte and Pearland, two teams that finished ahead of Rayburn, aren't in the new District 22-5A. Take them out of last season's equation, and the Lady Texans are fourth and back in the postseason.
That's something Rayburn coach Deborah Powell is well aware of and plans to use to sell her team on its chances of making the playoffs for the first time since 1998 when they regroup in August.
Obviously there are going to be new teams in the playoffs and we definitely want to be one of them," Powell said.
With only three players lost to graduation, the Lady Texans certainly will have the experience back to help them join the postseason party.
Their biggest loss is libero Justine Rios, who Powell will have to find a replacement for once practice tips off Aug. 2, but the rest of the squad is expected to pick up where it left on with last year's lessons.
We started out as a very young and unseasoned team, and the one really good thing about the group of kids last year is that as the season progressed they got better," said Powell, who's gearing up for 28th season.
The Lady Texans will be welcoming back senior middle blocker Kylah Dias, who missed half of last season with an ankle injury, severely hampering their ability to win in district. They finished 4-10.
It was a tremendous loss. She's been a starter since her sophomore season."
Powell says Dias is the squad's top all-around player, and her presence back in the middle on opening day should help the Lady Texans get off to a faster start and build some momentum before district.
She has great passing ability, she has a good jump serve, her blocking is very good and she's an extremely smart player," Powell said. She reads the defense well."
Also returning as senior starters are MB Jocelyn Gamino, outside hitter Felise Otabar and right side hitter Dannette Rodriguez, who could end up moving outside depending on what happens in practice.
Right now our situation is that we have one of our outsides set," Powell said. That's going to be Felise. And for the other outside I'm still looking at other people."
Powell began her search for a new libero to replace Rios in the spring but the search still is ongoing. One player high on the list is senior Judith Hernandez, a defensive specialist off the bench last season.
She'll definitely be a candidate," Powell said.
With Dias fully healthy, Powell expects the strength of her squad to be in the middle, at least on paper.
Since we will have Kylah back and she won't be injured, hopefully we'll start off stronger at the middle position," Powell said.
I'm looking forward to that."
She won't have to look much longer. After practices begins in three weeks, the Lady Texans host a scrimmage Aug. 6 with Galena Park, La Marque and C.E. King, then travel Aug. 7 to Alvin for a second scrimmage.
The season opens Aug. 10.
I'm ready to go," Powell said.
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