VYPE Houston Region
Clear Creek ISD
Other South Houston ISD's
VYPE's Preseason Volleyball Top 20 -- No. 20 Deer Park
August 10, 2012By Matt Malatesta of VYPE MAGAZINE - South Houston
The Deer Park Deer
Coach: Gay Sabatell
2011 Record: 34-10
Postseason: Reached the Regional Semifinals
By Matt Malatesta
With eight players graduating off of last year's regional semifinalists Deer Park team, coach Gay Sabatell has reason to panic, right?
She's been coaching the tradition-rich program for 29 years, however, so nothing is really new to her.
"I refuse to say that this is a rebuilding year," she said. "We are not using that as an excuse and I don't want to hear it. All of our girls know what's expected having played in this program, so we are going to continue what we've always done. We are going to play Deer Park volleyball."
Moving districts could also play into Deer Park's favor. They are out of the Pasadena district and into the conference with La Porte, North Shore, the Baytown schools and the Beaumont schools.
"We welcome the change in scenery," she said. "Teams will be more athletic than us, but I feel we can compete for the district crown. This keeps it fresh and we need that."
While the Deer Park volleyball team reached state in 2005, the Deer softball team brought home a state championship last June, which is giving the school's other programs some motivation. The good vibe is rubbing off.
"Our girls' softball team laid down the gauntlet with that state championship," she said. "We have to look at that and think to ourselves that we can do this. Why not us?"
For that to become a reality, someone is going to have to pick up the production left behind by Haley Mueller, who was the go-to girl for Deer Park the past few seasons.
"We have a pair of really good setters and Bethany Covington coming back in the middle for us," she said. "Lucy Vincent will be back also. The last few years, everyone in the gym knew that the ball was going to Haley Mueller in key situations. Now our opponents don't have really anyone to key on."
Can You Dig It?
Deer Park is an established program with years of experience. Moving districts will help but defining this team is tough to do right now. They will be young and need to work on ball control, but these are polished players who play club ball during the summer. Meshing as a team will be critical and someone being the lead Deer will be paramount.