Girls volleyball, approaching playoffs, beaten out of audience by football

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Girls volleyball, approaching playoffs, beaten out of audience by football

LBJ girls volleyball team plays Dripping Springs, eventually losing 3-0. photo by Jordan Jewell

LBJ girls volleyball team plays Dripping Springs, eventually losing 3-0. photo by Jordan Jewell

LBJ girls volleyball team plays Dripping Springs, eventually losing 3-0. photo by Jordan Jewell

LBJ girls volleyball team plays Dripping Springs, eventually losing 3-0. photo by Jordan Jewell

Trevor Anderson, Sports Editor

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On Friday nights, the LBJ Volleyball team gets ready for their game with the most energy they can, despite the noticeably empty stands. The LBJ volleyball and football seasons occur simultaneously, but despite volleyball’s successes, including district wins and a recent playoff run, football still has much more support, according to volleyball head coach Erica Cray.

“I’m happy with the direction of my team and them getting stronger as a unit,” Cray said. “They have grown so much from last year being sophomores and now [most of them] are juniors with a few seniors on the team, so I’m happy with their growth and development through the season. So far it’s just getting better and better.”

LASA junior and varsity volleyball player Paris Nix said the team simply plays better at popular games where more fans are involved.

“The McCallum and Lockhart games had large groups of juniors and seniors that cheered loudly throughout the entire game,” Nix said. “I know that I play so much better when people cheer and watch us play, and the whole team loves it. There is almost nothing that makes me more proud and happy than when my best friends came to cheer me on at the district opener against McCallum.”

According to Nix, that sort of support is often lacking. The only games she recalls lots of students attending were on off-weeks for football.

“I don’t think anyone realized that volleyball is actually a really complex and exciting sport that is thrilling to watch,” Nix said. “I’m hoping that more students will come to games next year when the team is stacked with seniors and the games are more advertised.”

LASA junior and varsity volleyball player Peyton Atchison said that the game schedule is a problem, and moving volleyball and football games to different days would help increase attendance at volleyball games.

“It is very annoying that the district places volleyball games on the same days as football games,” Atchison said. “Not only do students often choose football over volleyball, but volleyball girls don’t get the chance to see football games often. I think I have been to 3 LBJ football games throughout my 3 years at LASA. I think if they moved either volleyball or football games to different days, that it could really help bring in a volleyball support group, maybe even a volleyball student section!”

Nix said that even without large student sections in the crowd, the squad’s success comes from their energy and enthusiasm.

“Our team is incredibly energetic and fun to be around both on the court and in the locker room, but we are also very focused and serious about doing well,” Nix said. “I would go so far as to consider us the most hype team in the district. I think that our team bond and energy is our greatest strength, and that has contributed to much of our success this season.”

The team has worked this season to retain that energy during tough times or in high pressure situations, according to Nix.

“Our greatest challenge is coming back from being down,” Nix said. “Whether it is losing multiple points in a row or losing an entire set, we struggle most with regaining our positive energy, attitude, and motivation after losing. The difference between our play when we do or do not have positive energy is night and day.”

Cray said that while the fanbase could stand to be a little bigger, the group has received more support this year than in the past, which is a good sign of growth.

“Coming from our first year last year, we really didn’t have that many fans then and looking at the stands this year and just looking based off our ticket sales we’ve improved our fan base a whole lot and that just comes with the girls promoting the team,” Cray said. “So the fan base definitely has grown and I anticipate it growing even bigger even next year.”

Several volleyball players achieved first in several statistics in the district, indicating exciting skill that could draw more spectators, according to Cray.

“I have three really good players right now that have really just stepped up and claimed as being somebody to go to when we need something done,” Cray said. “I have Paris who is my middle blocker, my starting middle blocker, anytime we need a point to out the ball anywhere, Paris will make it work and get a kill. Without Ronnie our setter, half of that wouldn’t even be possible, she was MVP last year in the district and I’m anticipating her getting it again. And then one of our newer, younger athletes, Emily Wotton, she’s a sophomore now and she has really stepped it up, being a freshman on varsity last year and just seeing her potential.”

Atchison said that success in playoffs could grow the fanbase. However, they have to beat tough district opponents like McCallum and Dripping Springs in order to secure a playoff spot.

“Our sport doesn’t get much attention, so if we were to make it past the first round, I think our fanbase could be even bigger next year.” Atchison said.

The squad’s talent will likely be an asset to them in the playoffs, according to Cray.

“The greatest strengths would be all the athleticism and talent that we have,” Cray said. “It’s hard to have a team, find a team or a group of girls that have athleticism and skill and I have lucked out and been able to have both. A lot of people are jealous of the team that I have, other schools are pretty jealous, and I just kind of roll with it and I appreciate that I am blessed to have athletic girls and also very talented girls that skillswise just go above and beyond.”

According to Achison, the group’s talent and success in district and playoffs is what will drive people to come watch. She says games against McCallum are especially exciting and competitive.

“I think if people would come to just one Mac versus LBJ game, this could really change their minds,” Atchison said. “We could always use the loud support in the stands!”