Armed with most of its roster back from last season and an amazingly successful summer of club volleyball, Highland Park appears to be loaded for a huge 2013 campaign. The Lady Scots, who were 38-7 (14-0) in 2012, open the season with a 5:30 p.m. home match against Red Oak today.
“Not only do we have experience, but we have talent to go with it,” said head coach Michael Dearman, who is in his 10th season at Highland Park. “As far as their summer goes, they all did awesome. All of these girls have played at a really high level and helped their teams to do real well. In addition to the experience and the talent we have coming back, we have some nice pieces we’re adding this year. We’re real excited. It’s the deepest, most well-rounded team I’ve ever had.”
Among the returnees are hitters Grace Bonnet, Elizabeth Gilley, Maggie Taylor, and Eleanor Watson, setter Lena Pierce, and defensive specialist Grace Carter. All of them saw significant time in the starting lineup while helping the Lady Scots reach the third round of the playoffs last season. Middle hitter Emma Bowden and outside hitter Caroline Downing are also back after gaining some varsity experience in 2012.
After rolling to the District 10-4A championship, the Lady Scots beat Frisco Liberty then Seagoville in the playoffs. Frisco ended Highland Park’s season with a 28-26, 23-25, 25-17, 25-22 regional quarterfinal victory. The Lady Scots have been to at least to the third round of the postseason six of the last seven seasons, including a trip to the Class 4A state finals in 2008.
“We had a great record last year,” Dearman said. “It was pretty disappointing where we finished. We felt like we let that one get away. We felt like we were strong enough to meet up with Lovejoy in the regional finals — that was our goal. That stuck in the minds of the girls a lot, so their goals are even higher this year.”
Versatility on both sides of the ball should be the team’s biggest strength, Dearman said.
“We don’t have a single position on the court we feel like we have to hide,” he said. “We’ll set any position at any time, and we feel like we’ll be able to get great offense out of those. Just being such a well-rounded offensive and defensive team [will be our biggest strength]. It’s going to be hard to play against us, because you won’t be able to focus on just one or two players.”