Nimitz ready for break through in Harrison's second season
At the end of Shannon Harrison's first season leading Nimitz, the Cougars finished just on the outside looking in at the playoffs.
Nimitz went 6-8 in District 16-6A play, finished fifth overall and extended its playoff drought to three seasons.
Despite missing the postseason, the Cougars did finish the year strong winning four of their last five matches – the only loss coming in five sets to MacArthur.
"The expectation is to obviously do way better than we did last season," Harrison said. "I know we started off kind of rocky, but we ended really strong. So, I'm looking to polish what we have right now and capitalize on things that work for us.
"I have players that are more comfortable and more confident. They have stepped up tremendously. It just gives us that confidence boost going into this season."
Nimitz does lose five all-district selections – Keyona Caldwell (first-team), Jelani Champagne (second-team), Angelina Francisco (second-team), Jasmine Porchia (honorable-mention) and Adaria Houston (honorable-mention) – but does have some quality pieces to step in.
Harrison – a former Prairie View A&M libero when they won the 2006 SWAC Championship – will lean on her seven seniors to provide the leadership and numbers the Cougars will need to reach the playoffs.
The two that Harrison will turn to for the leadership portion will be Stephenie Barragan and Kia Robertson.
"I've been ready for this year to come," Robertson said. "I'm ready. Everybody's been looking down on Nimitz. We're going to show them what we're about."
Offensively, Harrison will look to Robertson to serve as one of the team's best hitters.
"She's just athletic in anything she does," Harrison said about Robertson. "It doesn't matter if it is volleyball, basketball or track, she's that kid that can do whatever. She's a very versatile and coachable kid with a positive attitude who just applies everything that you tell her."
Defensively, Jasmine Patton will be one to watch, getting the incoming shots off the floor.
Harrison commended Patton on her ability to adjust and not being afraid to take a hard hit or get on the floor to make a play.
"She's very fluid in whatever she does," Harrison said about Patton. "She's quiet but steps up on the court."
Other players to watch for Nimitz include Kayla Felder (DS), Maria Ordonez (S), Leia Albarran (OH) and Janay Reynolds (RS). Getting into the playoff picture in a tough District 16-6A will take "playing together and trusting in the process", Harrison said..
Robertson believes they should have been in the playoffs last year but with this group of seniors back they will correct their mistakes in 2019.
"We just weren't executing our plays," Robertson said. "This year we have to execute. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. We have to execute our plays in order to make those four spots."