HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL

Rouse volleyball not lowering expectations after state tournament appearance

The Lady Raiders return three players from the team that made it to the state tournament last year

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Rouse volleyball coach Jacob Thompson is most looking forward to seeing the growth of his team this season. 

After finishing as state runners-up a season ago, Rouse has gone through massive changes via graduation and returns just three starters from last year. But that hasn’t deterred the Raiders’ confidence. 

“It’s going to be an exciting, fun ride,” Thomson said. “As they come into their own and they find their own personalities and they find the type of players that they’re going to be, that’s going to be the best part.” 

Rouse began the season with two games on Monday night, a 3-0 loss to Westwood and a 3-0 loss to Dripping Springs. 

MacKenzie Huntley led the team with 23 kills while Grayson Schirpik and Emery Reid each had 19 over the two matches. Madison Butler paced the Lady Raiders with five total blocks and Reilly Heinrich had 39 digs. 

But more than 70 of the 150 points that were scored against Rouse were unforced errors. 

“It makes life difficult to be successful when you kind of shoot yourself in the foot on more than half the points that were scored on you,” Thompson said. “We don’t have the luxury to play sloppy volleyball and be successful.”

The Lady Raiders head to Dallas this weekend for the Byron Nelson Classic. District 17-5A play begins Sept. 7 at home against Marble Falls. 

Last year’s state tournament team featured a host of collegiate athletes, including élan McCall (TCU), Katy Northcut (Texas Tech), Ava Bell (North Carolina), Dani Cole (Washington) and Maddie Sheehan (Oregon State). 

Only Heinrich, Huntley and Schirpik spent all of last season on the variety squad. 

“We’re young experience wise and we’re going to be ok,” Thompson said. “We’ve got to get caught up with the game speed and our own identity. It’s not the start that we were looking to have, we’ve just got to settle in and find a rhythm.”

Rouse advanced to the regional final in 2016 for the first time in school history after sharing the district title before last season when the Lady Raiders went undefeated in district play and set all sorts of records and streaks. 

Despite the many changes, the outlook for this season and the future of the program have not changed. 

“The expectations are always high,” Thompson said. “Nobody is going into a match or a season in this profession with low expectations. They’re always there and they’re always going to be there. The kids in the program have high expectations and they want to do better. We’re not concerned about how we perform in August, we’re worried about late September and October when it counts.”

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Email: sports@hillcountrynews.com

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