The volleyball season gets underway with its first official matches on Monday.

Since opening a decade ago, Lone Star has established a winning tradition in several sports.

In volleyball, however, it has proven more difficult to break into the top of the standings in the group of ultra-competitive Frisco ISD teams.

The Rangers got a taste of winning when they made the playoffs in 2012 and 2013, but that was as a Class 3A program. The following year, Lone Star joined the rest of its FISD brethren and has yet to achieve the same success.

A breakthrough will occur at some point, and despite finishing last in 9-5A a year ago, there are plenty of reasons to believe this is the year it could happen.

“We return all key components of our offense and defense, add experience and talent and are hungry to earn respect in the district and area,” Lone Star head coach Leah Nielsen said. “We are focused on learning how to win as a team, physically and mentally competing for every point as if it was game point.”

The Rangers were one of the younger teams in the area last season, but enduring the experience of those growing pains should pay dividends in the months ahead.

Lone Star had four players named to the all-district team last season and all four are back.

That group is led by junior outside hitter/middle blocker Jailen Hurley. Hurley emerged as one of the top hitters in the area, registering 496 kills, an average of 4.3 per set, and led the team with 67 blocks and 32 aces.

Sophomore Amani Mason earned second-team honors during her inaugural varsity season, as she tallied 3.0 kills and 1.9 digs per game.

Senior setter Kinlee Martin, an honorable mention selection, directed the offense, dishing out seven assists per set and she was joined on the all-district squad by junior libero Katie Reeve, who recorded 3.0 digs per game.

Sophomore middle blocker Tori Green amassed 59 blocks and nearly a kill per game and junior setter Lindsey Bolton showed promise both defensively and in running the offense.

Nielsen believes freshman Faith Harris could step in and make an immediate impact, senior Devyn Moore, a transfer from out of state, should step into the rotation and the Rangers are also looking for continued improvement up front from juniors Kyndall Stewart and Leilani Harrel and sophomore Leighton Anderson.

Every team has had to find ways to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, but Nielsen has been pleased with how her team has approached personal workouts, as well as sticking with the offseason program and that effort should be seen when the season officially gets underway next week.

As for the team’s goal this season?

It is the same one that every team starts with, only for Lone Star, it would be a landmark achievement.

“Playoffs,” Nielsen said. “Our team is excited to show off their hard work. Rising from the bottom of the district is not an easy task, we know we have more work to do each and every day to reach our goals.”

For continued coverage on the local sports scene, follow Devin Hasson on Twitter: @DevinHasson

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