LEAGUE CITY – Last season is in the rearview mirror for the Clear Falls volleyball squad, which begins its 2014 campaign at 6:30 p.m. today at Deer Park.
The magic of their 40-7 run to the Class 5A state semifinals has put the Knights in the territory of the state’s elite teams, and coach Lyndsay Hodges knows an encore is the only way to remain at that plateau.
The Knights return a solid foundation, as they welcome back four starters, including District 24-5A Player of the Year Alyssa Enneking along with Ashlynn Dunbar and Madelyn St. Germain, who each earned all-district honors.
While Clear Falls does have some work to do, it is a squad ready for the challenge.
“We’re excited,” said Hodges, who was named 24-5A co-coach of the year last season. “We’ve spent the last week getting our new players up to speed, so we are looking forward to our first test and see how they look.”
Hodges said she feels filling the middle will be the biggest challenge her team faces during the nondistrict schedule, and although she feels good about the candidates at the position, how quickly they handle the speed of varsity play will go a long way toward how the team develops.
While the middle remains a question, there is no concern when it comes to Enneking, who comes off a 2013 season in which she recorded 900 kills at a 43.4 percent rate.
The 5-foot-11 outside hitter also led the team with 598 digs and comes into her senior year carrying the momentum of a strong offseason.
“You always wonder, ‘What more can she do?’ and then you realize she is capable of doing anything she wants on the court,” Hodges said. “She’s such an incredible athlete, especially in the air. Alyssa is one of those players that makes you wonder what comes next.”
Hodges also feels the sky is the limit for Dunbar, who had an impressive season that saw her make the District 24-5A First Team.
As good as she was, Hodges thinks this year can be even better.
“She has the makings of being a very remarkable athlete,” Hodges said. “I really think this is the year where she’s going to stand out.”
One key to their strong week of practice has been the ability of the Knights veterans to bring the younger players into the fold by communicating and showing what is expected of them, traits that will be needed once they get into the teeth of the District 24-6A schedule, which will come after a nondistrict schedule featuring the likes of Deer Park, Cy Woods and Dawson.
The Knights will also participate in the adidas Texas Volleyball Tournament in Austin and the NEISD Tournament in San Antonio.
“This schedule is going to help us evaluate where we are,” Hodges said. “It’s going to remind us there will be no off nights, especially once we get into district. I know that if we get one of the four playoff spots in 24-6A, we will be ready for whatever is thrown at us once the playoffs begin.”
Clear Falls Knights
COACH: Lyndsay Hodges
2013 RECORD: 40-7; lost in Class 5A state semifinals to The Woodlands
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Alyssa Enneking (Sr.), Ashlynn Dunbar (Jr.), Madelyn St. Germain (Jr.)