ROWLETT VOLLEYBALL

Rowlett will return to the court eyeing another trip to the playoffs.

Rowlett has been a fixture in the playoffs and set a new standard for Garland ISD programs.

Last season, the Eagles extended their GISD record of consecutive playoff appearances to 23 in a row.

Rowlett has seen its share of standout players come through the program, as well as a number of different coaches, but the standard has remained the same and that is why they do not expect to take a step back with a new head coach in Jessica Moss.

“The team is definitely buying into the idea of a fresh new start,” Moss said. “We have a new coaching staff, a small senior class and a lot of underclassmen. Everyone is stepping up to the plate and taking care of business, regardless of what is going on outside of our gym. We have a team that works well together and cares very much about one another. We are a family and we are ready and willing to go to war for each other when the season starts.”

There are holes to fill with the departure of six all-district performers, but there are plenty of reasons for optimism.

Rowlett returns a solid nucleus with a trio of seniors in Brooke Dragos and Mackenzie Bowen and Ashley Ung, who was an honorable mention all-district selection last season from her outside hitter position.

Though the roster was still being finalized last week, some other players have already emerged as likely contributors in junior setter Cheyanne Bradford, sophomore outside hitter Abigail Merkel and sophomore middle blocker Jasmine Riggins.

“Right now we are focusing on building chemistry. We have a lot of newbies that are learning our ways,” Moss said. “Being out for 5-6 months has taken a toll on our girls and while they enjoy being back on the court, they are having to get used to what practice looks like all over again. We are going back to the basics and reminding our girls of what standards Rowlett Lady Eagles volleyball players are held to.”

Like all teams, the Eagles have been finding ways to prepare around the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moss said they hold weekly meetings to check in on how the players are doing mentally, and they have been doing home workouts on their own, as well as during the designated class period during virtual learning.

Although they have enjoyed their share of winning, successful programs are never satisfied. And while making the playoffs is a breakthrough for some teams, Rowlett is aiming for more, including its first district title since 2016 and first playoff win in six years.

“Our expectations for this season are to hold everyone accountable. We want to make sure that everything is earned and we rise to every challenge,” Moss said. “We expect to finish at the top of our district and proceed farther in playoffs then last year. We have our minds and eyes set on State and are looking forward to being able to show up and show out.”

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

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