Ready or Not ... Here We Come!: Fulshear Volleyball ready for Class 5A
SYDNEY GOTCHER REMEMBERS ARRIVING IN GARLAND IN NOVEMBER. The first person she encountered asked where they were from.
Gotcher responded, "Fulshear".
The worker quickly responded back. "Never heard of it."
That was 2019. That was before Fulshear rolled into the UIL State Volleyball Tournament as unknowns and exited as Class 4A State Champions. Everyone in the volleyball world should know who Fulshear is in 2020.
There is no more surprising anyone.
"We know it's going to be a little different situation," Gotcher said. "Teams we may have caught off guard are going to be ready and waiting for us. I think we're up for the challenge."
The biggest challenge Gotcher and her squad faces in 2020 is moving up.
In December, when the UIL cutoff numbers were announced it was known then that Fulshear would move up to Class 5A for the next two years. In February, the Chargers learned of their new district home – District 24-5A.
"I think we have humbled ourselves moving up a classification, but I think we know [winning state is] still definitely a possibility for us," Fulshear junior Ava Underwood said. "I think that's our ultimate goal. "We've also told ourselves we can't look too far ahead."
Alexis Dacosta added: "We have more to prove. I feel like a lot of people feel like we can't do it because we were 4A. I feel like all of us know we are as competitive as the 5A teams."
It wasn't too long after Fulshear won state that Gotcher began the process of mapping out their road back to state.
There are teams she has her eye on in Region III-5A, Gotcher admitted. Ones that they will have to go through to get back to Garland. But their approach compared to 2019 doesn't change one bit.
"We're just facing it the same way that we would face [Class] 4A," Gotcher said. "I think it's less about the competition and more about what we're doing. So, we're going to focus on preparing ourselves, going one game at a time and not thinking about the level of play being higher. Because our level of play will be at the highest all the time."
Talking about the level of their play, Fulshear is loaded for 2020. Underwood is verbally committed to Texas A&M, while teammates Ellie Echter and Dacosta are committed to LSU and Baylor, respectively.
They also all play for the same club – Houston Skyline – and from those experiences are ready for higher-level competition.
"I'm so ready for 5A," Dacosta said. "Just the competition from club, we're ready. We play big competition already."
Echter added: "We're very fortunate to have us all at the same school and back for another year."
Despite, being a favorite for the Class 5A title in 2020, this team exudes an aura of confidence but not cockiness. They know they still have to put in the work.
For Underwood, the feeling is that they have to prove themselves all over again – just like they did in Class 4A.
"I think we do have to make our name again," Underwood said. "I do think we're on the radar more than we were last year because we did win state. I think moving up a classification, it's like starting all over."
When talking about the list of goals for 2020, Underwood first listed winning district.
In their new district, Fulshear will have to overcome Angleton, FB Hightower, Kempner, Marshall, Willowridge, Foster, Lamar Consoidated and Rosenberg Terry for the title.
The next goal is to make it to the Regional Tournament. And then State.
"We don't want to make that just an ultimate goal. That's always in our heads, but it's kind of there," Gotcher said about winning state. "It is a little unspoken. We know we have the talent; we have the kids to do it; they've put in the work to do it. So, it's something everybody knows we can do."
If Fulshear does get back to state, they will have a chance to join an exclusive club.
Since 2000, in UIL volleyball, two teams have won back-to-back titles after moving up a classification. Decatur won the 3A title in 2013 and then the 4A crown in 2014. Before that, Lucas Lovejoy won the 3A crown in 2011 and in 2012 took 4A.
"That would be the icing on the cake, getting back-to-back, especially in two different classes," Echter said. "I think that's something not many people can say they've done. To be able to do it would be really cool."