Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Coppell, Lovejoy lose key veterans, but dethroning the defending state volleyball champions won't be easy
Coppell and Lovejoy were the preseason favorites to win state volleyball championships in 2012, and neither squad disappointed. For Lovejoy it was a fifth straight title, and for Coppell a second.
Lovejoy graduated SportsDay player of the year Ebony Nwanebu and most of its starting lineup, while Coppell sent four seniors off with major college scholarships, including Texas signee Chiaka Ogbogu.
What remains are a host of teams trying to start their own dynasties, but dethroning the defending champions still won’t be easy.
“At the 5A level, I know we’re thinking we don’t have to see Chiaka anymore,” Southlake Carroll coach Arthur Stanfield said. “And 4A schools are thinking we don’t need to see Ebony. We can go in there and compete with them this year because they’re not going to dominate us with their athleticism.”
Southlake Carroll was a Region I semifinalist last year, as were Colleyville Heritage, Arlington and eventual champion Coppell. Hebron and Flower Mound were Region I quarterfinalists that proved their mettle in a fiercely competitive District 5-5A. Hebron handed Coppell its lone district loss, and Flower Mound finished as the district runner-up.
Flower Mound returns SportsDay newcomer of the year Lauren Cox, a 6-4 sophomore who is getting major college interest in basketball and volleyball. Colleyville Heritage returns four starters, including Virginia pledge Anna Walsh, a junior middle blocker. And Southlake Carroll boasts seven seniors, with libero Cat McCoy, who has committed to Texas, leading the way.
All of them will be trying to claim the state berth out of Region I, which has produced the 5A state champion every year since 2005. They’ll still have to contend with Coppell, which debuted as the preseason favorite in the Texas Girls Coaches Association poll.
“I don’t think you ever expect to face Coppell on an off night,” Flower Mound coach Marci Brinkman said. “Especially in district.”
Lovejoy, which returns just one starter, also debuted as the Class 4A favorite in the TGCA preseason poll
Highland Park, a regional quarterfinalist, returns eight players, including setter Lena Pierce, middle blocker Eleanor Watson and libero Grace Carter. All are three-year starters.
Also in the mix will be Frisco Centennial and Waxahachie, both regional semifinalists.
“It is wide open,” Highland Park coach Michael Dearman said. “More than it has been in the last few years. There are opportunities for teams that have been very close to get there and take it.”
Follow David Just on Twitter at @DavidJustDMN.