LEAGUE CITY — Clear Springs’ volleyball program took its biggest step forward in 2013, reaching the playoffs for the first time.

For the next step, coach Shannon Garner brings back five starters, including three All District 24-5A first-team members, who look to bring the Chargers closer to the likes of Clear Creek, Clear Lake and District 24-6A newcomer Friendswood.

Although Springs lost nine seniors, the Chargers feel they can exceed their 14-win total from last year, as the regular season begins with a visit from Alvin on Tuesday evening.

“Having our starters back is very beneficial to us,” said Garner, who was also named the 24-5A co-Coach of the Year. “We had a lot of growing pains last year, but I feel this team is more prepared mentally and is more focused.”

The Chargers bring back 24-5A newcomer of the year Elizabeth Armstrong, who shared the team lead with 120 sets played while establishing herself as one of the district’s best setters.

Entering her junior year, Armstrong (9.4 assists per match) will set the pace for the Springs offense, which will also be fueled by the return of junior outside hitters Cameron Edwards and Kylie Jedlicka, who both earned first-team 24-5A honors.

“Elizabeth knows the game and understands her role well,” Garner said. “That should really help both Cameron and Kylie, who I expect to be among the district leaders in kills.”

Springs has its top four leaders in kills returning, led by Jedlicka, who had 566.

Edwards (232), junior middle blocker Savannah Alcazar (206) and senior Jenna Campbell (123) also come back.

While the number of seniors lost appears huge on the surface, the returning Chargers are chock full of experience.

Campbell is a four-year letterman, while Alcazar, Edwards and Jedlicka each enter their third season of varsity play.

“That’s going to be very helpful, especially in this district,” Garner said. “I really don’t have any concerns about our team. They know the game and they spend the time taking care of themselves on and off the court.”

The addition of Friendswood, which comes off an appearance in the Class 4A state semifinals, has only raised the bar higher in a district already regarded as one of the toughest in the state.

“It’s just the way it is,” Garner said of 24-6A. “We will be up to the challenge.”

To prepare for the 24-6A schedule, the Chargers will take part in the Pearland Tournament next weekend, along with matches against Manvel, Dobie and Spring Branch Memorial.

Springs will also head out to Austin at the end of the month to participate in VolleyPalooza, which will bring in some of the state’s best squads.

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