With an experienced senior class that has been with head volleyball coach Kim Boyd since she started four years ago, the Sealy Lady Tigers are ready to battle in 2020.
Despite a couple of interruptions to the summer strength and conditioning camps due to positive COVID-19 tests, Boyd was pleased with the participation although she understands her athletes know the drill when summertime hits.
“Come July, those girls – especially my girls – know volleyball’s coming soon and if I’m not prepared physically then I’m not going to be able to handle the rigor of an actual season,” said Boyd. “I told my kids, ‘I’m doing everything possible to get you a season. I’m putting in hours of work to make sure that this works for you, so I just need you to understand you need to be (working out), or to be doing all of these things at home still.’ If they weren’t there, I sent them the workout; they know the expectations.”
The Lady Tigers have been to the postseason in each of the first three seasons under Boyd and although they will see some different faces in district play this year after the biennial realignment of the University Interscholastic League, a majority of the teams also competed against each other the previous two years in District 25-4A.
“My expectation is the same. We’re trying to win it,” Boyd said of Sealy’s new district. “We have El Campo who I don’t think lost one person. Last year, they had a coaching change, but those girls are athletic and they want it just as bad as we do. Bellville is always talented; they lost one of their very good outside hitters, she’s playing in college but that doesn’t mean there weren’t kids ready to back up those positions.”
In addition to Bellville and El Campo, the other teams making up District 24 for the next two years include Navasota, Royal, and Wharton.
Height on the outside has been a strength for Sealy in recent years with senior classmates Ally Dickens, Avery Oliver, and Brylie Nedd all registering more than six feet tall but junior hitter Julia Jurecka and junior setter Breanna Brandes will also provide some length for the Lady Tigers’ offense.
“We don’t just have the triple towers anymore; we’ve got four or five now. We have a really tall front row, the back row has gotten better since last year and I feel like they know what we are looking for out of each and every one of them from last year,” Boyd said. “It’s going to be more fun to watch because they’ve all played together before so whenever you walk in the gym, they’re all excited, they’re loud, they’re going all out. It’s a great time to play and to be in that environment again.”
Dickens, Oliver, and Nedd echoed those thoughts following the team’s first scrimmages on Aug. 7 against Lexington and Columbus.
“Something us seniors have talked about is just making this year as fun as possible because we don’t know what’s going to happen,” Nedd said of the uncertainty of the season amid the pandemic. “Just taking in every moment, going hard every play and playing every game like it’s your last.”
“We’re trying to make this team as iconic as any other team we’ve been on,” Oliver said. “We want to make sure that the standard is always high so the team can bring it, even after we’re gone.”
“Today got everyone a lot of energy and a lot of momentum,” Dickens said. “We have big hopes for this year’s team and how far we can go. Hopefully past that one round against Caldwell the last two years.”
When asked if this group of seniors was the one the coaching staff had been waiting for, Boyd agreed wholeheartedly.
“This is the year I’ve most looked forward to. This is the team that I basically built the program around,” the head coach said. “They bought in, they’re ready, they know what to expect every day when they come in and they know that we’re going to hold them to that standard. If we’re staying healthy the whole time, then we’re definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with.”