Lady Dogs just want to keep the momentum going
THORNDALE—Don't be surprised to see Thorndale Coach Julie Downs donning a chef's hat on the bench this season—she feels like she has the perfect recipe for another playoff run with the right mixture of players.
Thorndale will have a mix of youth and experience on its roster in 2009. They have advanced to the regional quarterfinals for the past two seasons.
The Lady Dogs finished 22-15 last season, going 9-1 in district play and finishing second behind Granger in the league standings.
They went three rounds deep in last year's postseason, losing in the Region IV quarterfinals to Class A powerhouse Round Top-Carmine.
Downs, in her sixth year at Thorndale, said that the district race will look much the same as a year ago.
"I think Granger will be strong again," she said. "I am impressed with the new Thrall coach (Robert Blakely). He has a nice talent pool to work with."
Downs lost much talent to graduation in Jillian Atkins (who signed to play with Texas A&MKingsville and was the league MVP last year), Kayle Titlow (last year's District Newcomer of the Year), Brianna Carrizales and Lauren Montagnino.
Seniors Kristen Kieschnick and Jordan Heine will take up outside hitting duties with underclassmen Shelby Stolte (junior) and Shelbie Maupin (freshman) will be the team's setters.
Juniors Margie Llana and Kim Leschber will return for the Lady Dogs as well. Kieschnick was a first team all-district selection last season. Heine earned honorable mention.
Senior Ashley Smith and junior Adriana Reyes, both honorable mentions in 2008, will also return to the varsity roster. Reyes is the team's libero.
New to the varsity are seniors Becky Garcia and Jessica Yanez and freshmen Heather Butterworth and Marlene Hall.
With the loss of much of her team's height, Downs said they are looking to fill the middle blocker positions.
"We are working desperately hard on defense," Downs said.
The team will participate in the Cameron, Shiner and Fredericksburg tournaments in preparation for district play.
"The reason for the bigger
2107849_CDE1_204_14_142 11/20/ school tourneys is for the girls
to see different types of play and speeds of the game," Downs said. "We might not see it in district play, but we will in the playoffs."
Thorndale scrimmaged teams from the local and Austin areas over the weekend. They played Del Valle, Austin Crockett and Lake Travis teams on Friday, along with Rockdale, Lampasas, Elgin and Rogers on Saturday.
She said they were able to get a good look at quick sets, something some of the younger players are not use to.
"I was proud of them," Downs said. "We have a lot of work to do."
Thorndale opened its season Tuesday night with a road trip to Austin Hyde Park.
NOTES—The Lady Dogs will participate in the Cameron Tournament on Thursday and Saturday... The group will hold a bake sale at 3:30 p.m. Friday at the Cefco in Thorndale to raise funds for their trip to the Fredericksburg Tournament later this month... The Lady Dogs will host Class 2A No. 9 Rogers in their home opener Tuesday, Aug. 18 with games starting at 5 p.m.
THORNDALE LADY DOGS
Coach: Julie Downs (6th year at
2008 record: 22-15
District record: 9-1 (runner-up)
Last playoff appearance: 2008,
lost in regional quarterfinals to
Last winning season: 2008
Key losses: Jillian Atkins, Kayle
Titlow, Brianna Gonzales, Lauren
Key returnees: Kristen Kieschnick,
Jordan Heine, Ashley Smith, Margie
Llana, Kim Leschber, ADrianna
Newcomers: Shelby Stolte, Heather
Butterworth, Shelbie Maupin.