Lady Dogs prepare for challenges of Class 2A
“They know what we have to do to win,” first year head coach Lisa Strelsky said. The former Lady Dogs assistant was promoted to the top job after Julie Downs left the district last month after six years to take the head volleyball job at 4A Marble Falls. “I really think our district will be neck and neck.”
District foes this season for Thorndale will include fellow Milam County school Cameron Yoe, along with Florence, Jarrell, Lago Vista, Lexington, Little River Academy and Rogers.
Many of those teams made the playoffs last season, as did the Lady Dogs.
Thorndale went 14-21 last year, finishing second in district play and losing in the bi-district round to Fayetteville.
Top returning starters include senior setter Shelby Stolte, and sophomores Shelbie Maupin, Tamicka Cook and 6-foot-5 Olivia Atkins.
Other key returnees are sophomores Marlene Hall and Heather Butterworth and seniors Kim Leschber and Adriana Reyes.
Stolte was a first team all-district selection last season, with Maupin, Hall and Reyes earning honorable mention nods.
Newcomer Kristen Butterworth, a sophomore, will be the libero and senior Mirah Knapek will add athleticism to the roster. Others include Petra Garcia and Robin Jost up from the JV squad.
Big losses already
The Lady Dogs have already suffered big losses due to injury before the season has gotten under way, the worst coming in the absence of senior Margie Sue Llana, a first team all-district selection last season.
Llana hurt her knee in the summer and had to have surgery and will miss the entire volleyball season.
Fellow senior Kristen Massar, who Strelsky was looking to be an up and coming asset, was hurt during last week’s scrimmage at Del Valle and is also out for the rest of her senior volleyball season.
Key losses include last year’s all-district selections Kristen Kieschnick and Jordan Heine. Kieschnick was co-offensive district MVP and Heine the defensive MVP.
Those two were not just athletes, but leaders, so with seven seniors, Strelsky knows there should be plenty of girls to fill their leadership shoes.
“I already sat down and talked with our seniors about stepping up into the leadership role,” Strelsky said. “They are doing a great job so far and have really led the way in our conditioning and with our drill and skills in the gym. They are the first ones to get up and get everyone going.”
Working out the kinks
Strelsky said that the team is meshing well together under the new leadership, but there is still work to do.
“We’ve got to work out our kinks and hold our own,” Strelsky said. She also noted that the team’s best feature is its athleticism.
“We are quick and agile,” she said.
The Lady Dogs will get a good look at their district opponents this weekend as most will join Thorndale at the Cameron tournament.
Thorndale will begin pool play on Friday at noon against Giddings, followed by Franklin at 3 p.m. and Lago Vista at 4.
The team will hit the road on Tuesday, Aug. 17 to face off against Cedar Creek High School in Bastrop. Games are set to start at 5 p.m.
Thorndale was to play Austin Hyde Park on Tuesday for the season opener, but scheduling mishaps left the Lady Dogs with an open date.
The teams scrimmaged at Del Valle and Rockdale over the weekend.
THORNDALE LADY DOGS
Coach: Lisa Strelsky (1st year) 2009 record: 14-21 District record: 2nd Last playoff appearance: 2009 Last winning season: 2008 Playoffs: Lost to Fayetteville in bi-district. Key losses: Kristen Kieschnick, Jordan Heine. Key returnees: Shelby Stolte, Shelbie Maupin, Olivia Atkins, Tamicka Cook, Marlene Hall, Heather Butterworth, Kim Leschber, Adriana Reyes. Key newcomers: Kristen Butterworth, Petra Garcia, Robin Jost.