Latexo Volleyball Looks to Rebuild in 2016

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

LATEXO – The Latexo Lady Tigers Volleyball program made it to the postseason in 2015 thanks to a squad of eight seniors, two juniors and one sophomore. The Lady Tigers also posted a mark of 20-13 last year, but with eight players graduating from an 11 member squad, 2016 looks to be a rebuilding year in Latexo.

The 2016 Lady Tigers will also see a new face at the helm as Coach Katie Brown takes over the program.

“When I came in, I was told only a few players who had played last year would be back because of graduation. So, I just treated everyone like they were on the same level. It didn’t matter if you were returning to varsity and it didn’t matter if you were a freshman,” she said.

Coach Brown said the three returning players were Jordan Davenport, Carolyn Townsend and Kursten Catoe.

“These were the only three that were on varsity last year because there were so many seniors. I just decided when I came in, everyone was going to be on the same level and we would go from there.”

The new coach said she became interested in volleyball at a young age and played throughout junior high and high school.

“In my junior year of high school, we won state in volleyball. I went to Midwestern State and played basketball, but I’ve played volleyball ever since I could. It seemed in college, I was always involved in volleyball in some way either through the school or back home.”

In volleyball, the coach said the most crucial area for success was teamwork.

“You have to have teamwork. One person cannot do everything. In basketball, you can have that one person who can dribble, shoot, score and play defense on the other team’s best player. In volleyball it’s not that way. You have to have three people touch the ball. Teamwork is huge in volleyball. Someone told me that you can always have one person do everything in basketball, but you can’t have just one person do everything in volleyball,” she said.

As the team prepares for the upcoming season, she said she was still trying to learn her district opponents.

“I know Iola is good, but right now I’m focused on what we are trying to do here in Latexo. Winning is not everything to me. Throughout practice, I like to have little goals. Whether that’s for me or for the girls, if we accomplish that, that’s winning for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love to win and we will try as hard as we can, but it’s not the end of the world if we don’t. I will always put the best interest of the program first.”

HOW I SEE IT: The Lady Tigers are in an eight team district and have two perennial contenders to deal with in Centerville and Iola. Expect Iola and Centerville to finish first and second in District 22-2A. The battle for third and fourth will be intense as Normangee looks to return to the playoffs while North Zulch moves up from 1A where they reached last year’s state tournament.

The Lady Tigers simply lost too much from last year and will be building for the future. Look for the Grapeland Sandiettes, the Lovelady Lady Lions, the Normangee Lady Panthers and the North Zulch Lady Bulldogs to battle it out for the third and fourth playoff spots from District 22-2A.

It’s hard to pick against a team that went to state and only lost two key contributors. Even though they moved up in classification, look for the North Zulch Lady Bulldogs to take the number three seed out of District 22-2A.

Normangee loses a lot from last year’s team, but several of their underclassmen showed they can step in to fill the gaps. Expect the Lady Panthers to take the number four seed out of District 22-2A.

The silver lining to this cloud for the four Houston County teams is Iola, Centerville, North Zulch and Normangee will beat up on each other throughout the season. If those teams slip up and lose a match or two they’re expected to win, you may one of the four Houston County teams slip into the postseason from the four hole.