The first trip is always the hardest.
On a team’s initial journey to a state tournament there are the perceived hurdles it has to overcome. The “never been here before” mindset and defeating the power programs that have “been there and done that” before.
Ridge Point overcame all of that in 2018 to win 47 matches and finish as the second-best Class 6A volleyball team in Texas.
What’s scary? A majority of the team is back in 2019.
“I think for many years, we had our season end up not as well as we wanted. That just gave us more motivation for what we need to do with our offseason, things we need to work on and what our mindset needs to be,” Ridge Point coach Lori McLaughlin said. “I have a very strong junior class and I know that they’re going to be just as motivated and goal-driven to get back here next year.”
The junior class McLaughlin refers to will bring back 66-percent of the offensive output from 2018.
Included in that is Texas A&M-commit Claire Jeter, who led the team with 490 kills and 167 blocks.
“It showed us how hard we need to work and how we need to leave everything on the court, every single game,” Jeter said. “I think with all the juniors coming back in my class, I think we can make it back here next season.”
Other key returners will include Nia Mccardell (team-leading 906 digs), Kendall Sekula (team-leading 979 assists), Reagan Rutherford (3rd-best 382 kills, 105 blocks and 2nd-best 477 digs and 832 assists), Randee Hennings (4th-best 206 kills) and Lindsey Ogle (5th-best 200 kills).
The lone major loss from the senior group is Texas-signee Skylar Fields.
Fields, who had 471 kills, fully anticipates to see her former teammates bring this group right back to the final match of the season in 2019.
“The team’s been strong with that set of juniors,” Fields said. “So, for them to come back for their senior year, I really feel like they’ll be able to come right back here next year with a different result. I know they will continue the hard work to do that.”
The expectation around the group will be to be back in 2019.
The biggest advantage for her group heading into this offseason compared to others in the past, is McLaughlin now has a nucleus that has “been there and done that”.
“Anytime you get the opportunity to be at state, it’s to your advantage because you know what it takes to be able to get there,” McLaughlin said. “So, now we know what we need to do to execute and come out on top.”
This article appears in the 2018 December Issue of VYPE Magazine. Pick up your copy at any one of our locations next week!