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Dawson looks great again

The talent pool has always run deep for Dawson’s volleyball program, but combining that with a healthy amount of grit has made coach Lauren Leith more excited than usual this season.

After he got flights to Regional semi-finals in each of its first three Years as a volleyball coach for the Lady Eagles, Leth has no reason to believe that a fourth shouldn’t be in her team’s store.

There is one vital person to replace him – the powerful Alexia Jones on the outside – but with a plethora of talent at her fingertips, Leth hopes to put together a team as competitive as her previous units.

“I think this is a season that the crew and I have been really excited about For four years now, Leith said.

“We’ve seen this group since they were freshmen, some of them were in university and others who joined sophomores.

“Over the years, the pieces kept falling out of place.

“They have built themselves into a group of eight very talented seniors. What we are most excited about is the harmony this team has.

“Seeing what it would look like with their talents would be one thing, and we will appreciate everything a lot more after the COVID season.

“I think the culmination of it all can be really fun to watch.”

If Dawson makes it to the regional championship, it will be the fifth consecutive trip to the event, having reached that point in Jason Cream’s final season as head coach before Leith took over.

Although Jones is gone, Lady Eagles have plenty of firepower and experience to count on.

“Kylie (France), Alana (Torres) and Cam (Cameren Scroggins) are going to be important players,” Leith said. “We are also bringing back four juniors to go with our seniors.

“The pilot tests will determine where the others will contribute.”

Dawson produced a record 22-4 last season and Lost to Katie Seven Lakes, the ultimate state champion, in the regional semi-finals.

Scroggins, a fourth-year collegiate, is a versatile player who is also an exceptional defensive player and deceptively strong hitter.

France provides strength from the outside, and Torres is a rigid free-wheeling player.

Leith said: “Sydney (Alexander) was a center blocker at the start last year, and it just got more dynamic.

“She is a huge asset, along with young Ava Kennon, who is our other medium.

“Eva Bowling is a right-side hitter, who tore her ACL just before the season started and missed all her junior season.”

Other strong contributions could come from a variety of players including right-hand top hitter Lucy Farnell. great impatient Libero Louis; junior defensive specialist Carter Galley; junior outside hitter Bryce Raney; junior setter Kylie Thedford; and chief defense specialist Vallen Nobles.

Trying to identify any weaknesses in Dawson’s lineup is a chore.

“I immediately think we’re looking for someone to step up to the role of Lexie,” Leith said. “Aside from that, we will be getting back together after so many people have been outwardly all spring.

“We’re bringing back most of the front lines and our entire defence. I feel strong about our passing too.

“It will just be about reconnecting our attack again and filling that hole left for Lexi.”

Leith said she would likely feel comfortable with any group of players on the court.

“We’re bringing back a lot of talented and experienced kids, players who know the pace of 6A volleyball and players who know about progression in the playoffs,” she said.

“Lexi has been a staple of our program from a talent and leadership point of view. It’s not so much a concern as waiting and seeing who takes the role.

“I have some ideas about how to implement a lot of it, but it’s really up to the girls to get into these roles and for their teammates to respond to it.”

Dawson will compete in tournaments at Pearland, Clear Creek, and Leander as well as play a tough schedule outside the region.

The season for Lady Eagles begins on August 10 when you play Conroe Oak Ridge and Humble Summer Creek in Kingwood.

As far as the county race is concerned, Dawson will likely contend for the title with Berland, Shadow Creek and Alvin.

“I know Berland brings back more seniors than we are, and Shadow Creek is going strong every year,” said Leith.

“Alvin has a new coach (Kyle Konivke of Clear Creek), and I think she will do a great job with them. Hopefully it will be competitive race #1.”

No matter who’s on the court, Leith said Dawson’s mindset could not be shaken.

“When I started at Dawson, we had a ‘Relentless’ book call at the start of the playoff,” she said.

“We’ve addressed a lot of the factors that mean being tough and never giving up.

“Having guts is the biggest factor and these girls get that. If I could define a relentless team, it would be this one.”

“If they can embody that and continue to work relentlessly, the possibilities are endless for us this year.”

tdunnam@hcnonline.com

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