FRISCO INDEPENDENCE VOLLEYBALL HAYDEN HICKS

Independence junior Hayden Hicks is one of several key returning players for the Knights this season. 

Frisco ISD volleyball programs have enjoyed their share of success in the playoffs during the last decade.

The problem many teams have is navigating the district landscape to earn a spot on the biggest stage.

Because of the competitiveness across the board in the 10-team 9-5A, several teams that are good enough to qualify in many districts are left on the outside looking in when the postseason rolls around.

Independence has been able to break through on a couple of occasions during its short history, making the playoffs in 2015 and 2017, but is looking to make that an annual deal.

Last season, the Knights put together a winning record prior to the start of the district slate, but the 9-5A road took its toll as the season progressed, and a late slump left them out of the playoffs.

That should serve as fuel to motivate this year’s Independence squad, as head coach Stephen Larwa returns a solid nucleus looking to climb to the top of the standings.

Leading that group is a pair of versatile players who earned second-team all-district honors in Hayden Hicks and Emma Simpson.

Hicks, a 6-1 junior setter, averaged 4.4 assists per set last season to lead the team, but she found other ways to contribute as well, tallying 2.7 kills and 2.7 digs per set, to go along with 43 aces and 27 blocks.

Simpson, a senior who can play a number of positions, posted 3.3 kills and 1.8 digs per game with 26 aces.

Junior libero/defensive specialist Abby Wadas and senior libero defensive specialist Julia Bortolasi were honorable mention selections and keys on the back line, while senior Savannah Moody earned the same honor after recording 2.1 digs and 3.5 assists per game.

Independence also returns a presence at the net in senior middle blocker Audrey Springfield (56 blocks), junior middle blocker Kat Bloomer (56 blocks) and senior right side Bailey Herberger (31 blocks), and keep an eye on freshman outside hitter Reagan Bedell.

Larwa likes what he sees from the team’s effort, defense and serving, as well as their attitudes, but the focus on the shortened non-district slate will be on coming together as a team.

As for the ultimate goal at this point, the Knights are keeping it simple and straightforward.

“Hopefully, we’ll be in playoff contention,” Larwa said.

 

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

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