The journey into the great unknown for the Northwest V.R. Eaton volleyball program is less than one month away.
After going through 2015 as a junior varsity program, head coach Diane Wilson took the turn to put this program on the track toward its first varsity season. The work was put in during the spring. About 80 percent of the players are going through select seasons. What awaits is anyone’s guess.
“The greatest thing is that I know these girls have developed and grown into a program,” Wilson said. “Really, the challenge has been getting all of them to mature together. I think we’ve done a great job of doing that.”
This is Wilson’s first opportunity to build a program from its infancy. But she understands the nuances of a program when she coached at Grapevine and Arlington Bowie for the last three decades.
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The volleyball team will be the first varsity team to play in an event that will count on the win-loss ledger. There is some anxiety. There is some excitement knowing that a potential tone will be set.
But there won’t be much time to soak it all in. Like all volleyball programs in August, Eaton will be awash in a frantic schedule. The Lady Eagles will play in three tournaments, The Nike Classic, The NISD invitational and the Arlington Invitational. Those three weekends should provide about 16-20 results.
“When you’re building a program, the important thing is to develop relationships,” Wilson said. “I wanted the players to invest in each other and place some demands on each other. We’re going to have some hard days. But there will be good days.”
If there was any precursor to what the season could expect, the 2015 junior varsity squad – the group that is expected to take up most of the varsity roster – finished 22-10. This team isn’t going to be very tall. There are some players who will stand 5-10. But others are around 5-9.
Wilson spent most of the offseason working with players on their individual skill sets rather than implementing her system. Given that most select seasons begin in the spring, she wanted her players to perfect their craft. She can use the upcoming training camp to fine tune the 6-2.
“I didn’t want to overload them with system information and lose their focus,” Wilson said. “The important thing we’re going to have to do is making sure we control our pace so we don’t peak too early.”
The grueling District 6-5A season will last seven weeks and features state power Aledo and Saginaw Boswell. Wilson anticipates she will carry 12-14 players. Subject to change, she plans to feature three setters.
Several of those she expects to contribute are junior outside hitter/middle blocker Alyssa Jolly (5-9), junior outside hitter/middle blocker Lindsay Ferkel (5-10) and junior middle blocker Kaylee Payne (5-9).
“The first thing is that we have to understand is that we’re not going to be as experienced as those other teams,” Wilson said. “We won’t have any seniors. We just have to play long and smart rallies and be patient. It’s going to be a great opportunity for us.”