If your name is Jordan Davis or Kristinn Holbrooks, you’re likely very excited for August.
The newly minted coaches for Lake Dallas girls basketball and volleyball, respectively, Davis and Holbrooks will be walking onto campus with some of the best first-year situations in the area.
In fact, both programs are on startlingly similar trajectories, with plenty of promise for what’s to come if their respective new faces can settle in quickly. Below is a look at a few of the threads that connect two clubs that could find themselves intertwined over the course of the next few seasons.
Strong leaders back for one more crack at it
Some first-year urgency will certainly be a factor for each of the programs in 2019-20, as each will return impactful senior leadership with a lone year left before departing Lake Dallas.
For Holbrooks and the volleyball team, senior setter Ruthie Forson and her 2018 District 8-5A Setter of the Year award will return to helm the Lady Falcons. Forson was a key part of the team earning its fifth straight postseason appearance, recording 977 assists, 276 digs and 43 aces on her way to her superlative honor.
On the basketball court, the Lady Falcons get a package deal in seniors Josephine Elliott and Dorian Norris, who have been impactful players at the varsity level for the majority of their careers. Norris scored at a clip of more than a dozen points per game in district play to Elliott’s 9.2, adding 9.3 boards, 2.7 steals and 1.7 blocks per outing. Elliott also dished out 3.5 assists per game in league play.
However, as strong as the top end might be, the 2019 class will need players to lead.
Solid, young cores back for more
Enter the remainder of the two programs’ rosters.
Exiting the 2018-19 athletics year, only four seniors departed their respective squads – Ary Hughes and Rylee Kleam for the girls basketball team and Bailey Avila and Mercedes Zaragoza for the volleyball team. Among those, Avila and Hughes saw the most action and Avila was the most impactful, holding down the libero spot for the Lady Falcons when healthy.
Add it all up, though, and you find a pair of programs that will see very little turnover, particularly in their starting lineups. While Avila will leave, Forson, sophomore Caelyn Gunn, junior Macie Banks, junior Candace Collier were all lineup staples for Lake Dallas volleyball.
It’s a similar story on the hardwood, where Norris and Josephine Elliott will be joined by sophomore Jorja Elliott, Josephine’s little sister, sophomore Allie Buchanan and sophomore and 8-5A Newcomer of the Year Mackenzie Buss, who all combined to form a regular starting five for the team.
Been there, done that
Still, all of the talent and promise would be for naught if the teams can’t advance past the bi-district round, something that hasn’t happened since 2014 for the volleyball program and 2008 for the basketball team.
There is hope, though, in the form of a growing mound of experience.
By virtue of both teams entering the postseason a year ago, each of those large returning cores has at least experienced the intensity of the playoffs at least once. In addition, since the 2015-16 school year, the teams have combined for seven postseason appearances, meaning the older, more seasoned players have an even greater bank of experience to fall back on.
When the dust settles following the programs’ respective seasons in 2019-20, the bottom line will still be the finished product. Another season of one-and-done results can and should be considered a failure, though Davis and Holbrooks should have all the tools necessary to avoid that fate.
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