Allen volleyball

Allen junior Emily Caanan (24) and the Lady Eagles will be under new leadership next season after Stephanie Poole was named the volleyball program’s next head coach.

Both the Allen and Lovejoy volleyball teams will be under new leadership next season. The Lady Eagles and Lady Leopards now know who those leaders will be.

On Monday, Allen High School announced the hiring of Stephanie Poole as the next head volleyball coach at Allen. One day later, Lovejoy ISD promoted assistant Natalie Puckett to take over the next head coach for the two-time defending Class 5A state champions.

Puckett’s a familiar name to the Lovejoy faithful. She graduated from the high school in 2011 and was one of the student-athletes who helped jump start the Lady Leopards’ volleyball dynasty. She played outside hitter for the program’s first three state championship teams.

Puckett previously coached as an assistant at Southlake Carroll (2016-18) and Highland Park (2018-20) before returning to her high school alma later for the 2020-21 school year. She was an assistant on Ryan Mitchell’s staff as Lovejoy captured the seventh UIL state championship in program history — doing so in unbeaten fashion after posting a perfect 26-0 record.

Mitchell stepped down from his post in May to take the same position at Prestonwood Christian. 

We are excited to announce one of our own as the new head coach for our Lovejoy volleyball program,” said Chris Ross, Lovejoy ISD athletic director and head football coach, via press release. “Natalie was a player, captain, and state champion during her time as a student at Lovejoy High School. As a coach, she was a key contributor to our 2020 state championship run. Her unique experiences with outstanding programs, as well as her strong ties to Lovejoy, make her the perfect person to lead our program.”

Just as Puckett takes on her first head-coaching position, Poole will do the same a few miles west over at Allen.

Poole joins the Lady Eagles after spending the past three seasons as an assistant at Waxahachie — her second go-around with the program in that role. The Lady Indians advanced to at least the second round of the playoffs all three of those seasons, including a regional quarterfinal appearance in 2018.

Poole takes over for longtime head coach Kelley Gregoriew, who stepped down from the position during the spring. Gregoriew had coached at Allen since 1993 and recorded 769 career victories. 

A 12-time district coach of the year, Gregoriew led the Lady Eagles to state tournament berths in 2003 and 2006, finishing a state runners-up in the former.

For continued news and coverage on the local sports scene, follow Matt Welch on Twitter.

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