Lady Pirates set high hopes for 2019
The Granbury Lady Pirates return enough talent for 2019 that making the playoffs should almost be a sure thing.
Provided, of course, they don’t suffer from jet-lag.
The Lady Pirates will make a trip to Hawaii next week for the Ann Kang Invitational, leaving on Wednesday for a three-day tournament.
Once they return, they’ll have very little time to recover before playing Arlington Martin on Tuesday, Aug. 13, the day school starts. The Granbury Classic Tournament is that weekend.
It’s a jam-packed early schedule by design.
“We have a really tough preseason, and that’s on purpose,” Granbury head coach Desiree Shahan said. “I want to be able to compete with those teams, if not beat them.”
The Lady Pirates finished in second place in District 5-5A last season with a 12-2 record but lost in the second round of the postseason to Saginaw Boswell. Granbury hasn’t forgotten that loss.
“From the years past, whenever I was here with Tammy (Clark), there’s just Boswell. They’re good,” Shah-an said. “They’ve always kind of had that little rivalry, so our girls, they’re going after them this time. Whoever we go up against, they’re fighting.”
Much of Granbury’s starting lineup returns from 2018, including First Team All-District member Peyton Bell, who will be a senior. Savannah Smith, Macie Blohowiak and Kennedy Hinckley round out the senior class for Granbury.
Along with the net presence of Mandy Withey and Claire Rhodes, the Lady Pirates will have to replace the leadership of Yari Press, who was the team’s MVP last year and arguably Granbury’s heart and soul. Shahan said there’s several players fighting for her role.
“The hardest part of losing Yari was that she was such a leader and a team player,” Shahan said. “But everybody’s like, ‘I want that position.’ You can’t be mad at that.”
A junior class of LoLo Schroeder, Courtney Smith, Gracie Nichols and Kaitlyn McCabe impressed as sophomores last season, and Shahan said she’s seen further improvement in spring workouts.
“Most of them, they’ve continued to play volleyball with their clubs, and a lot of them went to nationals this year,” she said. “So they’ve pretty much been playing competitive ball the entire time, adding on top of our offseason. They’re such a good group.”
Kylie Hagan missed last year with an injury, but is expected to contribute in her junior year. Ellie Alexander returns from a solid season as the lone freshman on varsity.
Shahan said she hopes and expects for her team to come together over the early games.
“I really want to start from the very beginning, that team cohesiveness,” she said. “It was there last year, it just wasn’t where I wanted.
“I think that they realized in the offseason that, ‘man, it’s not worth it. Let’s come together and talk about it if there’s an issue.’”
And if you’re trying to build team unity, you might as well do it on the beaches of Hawaii.