There was a time when North Mesquite was a staple in the volleyball playoffs.
From 2002-2011, the Stallions made nine postseason appearances in 10 years.
Times have been tougher since then and North Mesquite has not been back in the playoffs since that run came to an end.
Despite those struggles, the Stallions enter the 2020 campaign with renewed expectations and one mission.
“(Our goal is) to fight for a playoff spot,” North Mesquite head coach Roger Waters said.
Though recent history might not be on their side, there are reasons for optimism for the Stallions.
North Mesquite graduated a handful of regulars, but three of their all-district honorees were underclassmen.
That group is led by sophomore middle hitter KK Daniyan, who made an immediate splash last season when she was named to the 11-6A first team during her freshman campaign.
She is joined up front by junior middle hitter Mikaylah West, who was an honorable mention all-district selection.
Daniyan was not the only player to make an impression during her inaugural campaign, as sophomore libero Gaby Briones returns to bolster the defense after being named to the all-district honorable mention team.
Though every team has coped with the late start due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Waters said that the key early on is to get the offense to click, but it helps that North Mesquite returns senior setter Lucy Morales.
The Stallions have spent the first weeks of workouts looking for others to step up and join the rotation, but one player to keep an eye on is sophomore outside hitter Tanaiya Antwine, who could be poised to fill in a key role.
North Mesquite won just one district match last season, but it was a confidence booster with a late sweep of rival Mesquite.
The offseason has been anything but conventional, but the Stallions have maintained the team chemistry they built a year ago and that could be a defining characteristic toward them breaking their playoff drought.
“These girls truly like each other and enjoy playing for and with each other,” Waters said “This is a rarity in my experience.”