District 10-5A Volleyball Predictions
BY Andrew Snyder, Matt Welch and Kevin Hageland, Staff Writers
1. McKinney Boyd
The Lady Broncos return most of their roster from last year's Class 5A State Finals run.
That group includes senior outside hitter Megan Mollett -- an Arkansas commit and the team's top player -- senior libero Kaley Seaber, senior middle hitter Emma Meyer, senior middle blocker Krista Bukovec, senior outside hitter Kelly Koop and senior opposite hitter Caitlyn Mills.
That wealth of veterans had Boyd enter the season as the district favorite and they've done little to change that perception by compiling a 23-6 record and finishing fifth at the Duncanville, Allen and Arlington tournaments.
During that stretch, Boyd faced a pair of 10-5A teams -- Allen and Plano, twice each -- and went 3-1 record, losing once to the Lady Wildcats.
Boyd has lost just one match during the past two district seasons, but its new set of opponents should provide a tougher challenge that head coach Kelly Quinn feels will help her team better prepare for the playoffs.
2. Plano Senior
Whether it's a veteran-laden roster, new head coach Teri Minnis or a combination of the two, the Lady Wildcats have been rejuvenated in 2012.
This is Plano's best team since advancing to the regional finals in 2005.
With front line returners in seniors Alicia Hinojos, Madi Morell, Sam Seal, Ally Birkett, juniors Natalie Fazio and Aubrey Davis as well as emerging junior Kiley Long, the Lady Wildcats have an offense that can frequently be devastating.
Add in experience with senior defensive specialist Lauren Stahlman and senior setter Audrey Landry, and Plano's roster is filled with veterans who know what it's like to miss the playoffs the past two seasons.
That will change in 2012.
The question will be whether Plano can usurp Boyd for the top spot.
That is a tall task, but the Lady Wildcats defeated Southlake Carroll when it was No. 1 in the state and have split a pair of matches with the Lady Broncos, so Plano can hang with top teams.
3. Plano West
Consider Plano West the opposite of Plano.
While the Lady Wildcats have a ton of proven hitters up front, the Lady Wolves are still inconsistent there.
West has no shortage of talent on the backline with seniors Brooke Coleman and Abigail Curry running the setter spot while senior Shane Peters and sophomore Camryn Vecera shore up the defense, but hitting remains a question.
There are options as senior Katie Stebbins, Paige McKiddy, Julia DeVinney, juniors Morgan MacGilvary, Kelly Bennett and sophomore Maddie McKiddy could all lead the way from match-to-match.
But will the Lady Wolves have one or two options consistently fill the box score with kills and blocks?
If the answer is no, West will be fighting for a playoff spot until the last match.
If the answer is yes, the Lady Wolves will have an offense to pair with a defense that can keep them in any match and could mount a serious postseason push.
4. Plano East
Perhaps more so than any other team in District 10-5A, experience is on the side of Plano East this season.
The transition from 2011 to 2012 has been fairly seamless for the Lady Panthers, who returned all but three players from last season's playoff squad.
The East core remains intact as well, with senior Sammy Myers manning the middle, senior Kayla Burling attacking from the outside, junior McKenzie Shea pulling the strings at setter and senior Gabby Litwin helming the defense. Tag on junior Lily Porsa, who could prove to be East's most versatile weapon, plus senior Symone Stephenson and East should look to pick up where it left off in 2011.
The mission will be easier said than done as despite its experience, East has struggled to maintain consistency during non-district play. The edge in experience and late-season success from last year should be enough to assure a return to the postseason, though.
Lady Eagles head coach Kelley Gregoriew has been at Allen for 20 years and very rarely does she miss the playoffs.
Last season was one of those years.
Allen had made the playoffs for 16 consecutive years prior to last season and the Lady Eagles are no doubt anxious to right that wrong in 2012. The biggest roadblock to a playoff return could be the team's youth. Though the squad has experience with players like seniors Kate Klepetka, Kim Bell and junior Camryn Freiberg, Allen is also leaning heavily on sophomores Sheridan Ralston, Sydney Joseph, Kaitlyn Blake and freshman Chandler Atwood. The talented youngsters have displayed flashes of brilliance, but also provided sets of frustrations.
A consistent level of defense and ball control will be a must for Allen to excel.
With a youth infusion, the Lady Eagles' future looks bright, but that future may also be a season away.
The Lionettes are off to a quick start in their first year under head coach Jessica Camp.
They enter district with an 18-12 record and a roster that features strong returning talent like senior libero Karmen Jackson and promising newcomers like freshman outside hitter Claire Embry.
But the Lionettes will play the underdog by default in their new district.
McKinney was bumped up to Class 5A this spring -- though its enrollment numbers at the start of the year didn't meet the required amount -- and placed in a district with several of the largest schools in the state.
The six-team format of the district still gives the underdog a chance, as a team with a split or losing record will likely make the playoffs. The Lionettes can take heart in knowing that a short hot streak could be all its takes to upset their predicted finish in 10-5A.