��� New-look Lady Dragons out for similar success BY Justin Thomas, jthomas@starlocalnews.com Published: | Carroll Athletic Booster Club Volleyball | iHigh.com






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New-look Lady Dragons out for similar success BY Justin Thomas, jthomas@starlocalnews.com Published:

August 15, 2012
Carroll Athletic Booster Club

New-look Lady Dragons out for similar success



Published: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 5:41 PM CDT
Last season, despite seeing its season unexpectedly come to a close in the area round of the Class 5A playoffs against Grapevine, Southlake Carroll had one of its most successful campaigns to date, finishing with a program-best 44 wins.

Now the Lady Dragons are preparing to hit the court for the 2012 season but will do so with a vastly different roster following the departure of last year's District 7-5A MVP Janelle Jenkins, Setter of the Year Kayden Cook and Defensive Player of the Year Caitlin Nolan.

But despite the losses, Carroll head coach Arthur Stanfield believes the pieces are in place for yet another successful season.

"I don't really see this as a rebuilding year at all," he said. "We're probably not going to be 44-1 at any point. But I think we'll have a really good group if we work hard."

While playing time is up in the air, Stanfield said the team has settled on its varsity roster, which includes nine seniors, six juniors and three sophomores.

"We have the kids in place in the system," he said. "It's just a matter of them competing for time. But there is plenty of opportunity for them to prove themselves. We have 18 players, which I think is still a little too high, but it's down a bit from the 20 that we had on varsity last year. Thirteen of our players have varsity experience, and the ones that don't, have experience playing at a high level in club."

One reason for Stanfield's optimism despite the turnover is Carroll's experience in the back.

"I think our back row play, especially our left-back and center-back, are going to be as good as anyone," he said. "Our setters really have improved their defense and we should be very strong there and we also have great depth, which will really help in these tournaments. We have a lot of matches coming up in a short period of time, but the kids really shouldn't be getting worn out or abused."

Defensive specialists and liberos include Cat McCoy, Avery Stephens, Kersten Kober and Kori Ortiz.

"I think with losing Caitlin, people are expecting a big drop off but I don't think it's going to be as big as anticipated," Stanfield said. "We have strong liberos that play excellent defense."

The biggest question comes at setter, where Cook has graduated. The Lady Dragons will look to Maddie McCollough, Emily Harvel, Lillian Riley and Audrey Alford.

"Without Kayden, we just don't quite have the same height and athleticism," Stanfield said. "Maddie has gotten experience on varsity the last three years, but for everyone else, this is their first time on varsity. But we're pretty confident we can mold them into the correct spots."

As a result, Stanfield said the team will use more 6-2 formations as opposed to the 5-1 typically seen last year.

The setters will be tasked with setting up Carroll's front-line players, which possess more size than typical.

Outside hitters include Christen Sikora, Maiya Burns and Katie Martin, while middle blockers are Timarie Nymeyer -- last year's Newcomer of the Year -- Danielle Proskovec and Madison Drescher. On the right side, the Lady Dragons will lean on Taylor Gruenewald, Courtney Ensch and Katelyn Moore.

"Sylvia started last year and was one of our better hitters in the scrimmages," Stanfield said. "Timarie and Danielle got some valuable experience on varsity last year, too. And Courtney is a big lefty who can really swing."

Rounding out the roster is Katie Dunlap, a second team all-district selection last year who Stanfield described as a "jack-of-all-trades".

"We can count on her to play anywhere and do a little of everything," he said.

Other concerns include blocking and staying healthy.

"Our blocking skills still need to improve," Stanfield said. "So our ball control has to be great and we really have to execute and be consistent."

One way the Lady Dragons are seeking to improve their block is with coaching.

"We have a new stipend coach, Summer Neimann, who is going to help us out after school and during the weekends," Stanfield said. "She's a former college player and works a lot on middle blocking and I think she will help out there."

Lindsay Mitchell, meanwhile, takes over the junior varsity squad which features 12 sophomores, one junior and one freshman.

Thus far, Carroll has gotten out to a solid start, including competing in scrimmages during the past week against Arlington, L.D. Bell, Plano East, Frisco Liberty, Lovejoy and McKinney Boyd.

"We played pretty well," Stanfield said. "Lone Star volleyball has us ranked fifth right now, but they had Boyd ranked second and we swept them in the scrimmage."

Carroll will also be competing in District 4-5A against the likes of Haltom City, Keller, Keller Central, Keller Fossil Ridge, Keller Timber Creek, Richland and Northwest.

"Obviously when you take the defending state champs in Coppell out, it is probably going to be a little weaker district," Stanfield said. "But there are still some talented teams. Richland was a playoff team last year and I think teams like Keller and Northwest should be improved."

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