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Some of the stars of 2023-24 Stratford Volleyball
The Spartans have been on a tear throughout this Fall.
After graduating eight seniors off last year’s team, including the District-MVP Skylar George, who’s currently at Utah, what has been the motivation for coach Jennifer Adcock’s group, as Stratford (28-6) has ascended the rankings of H-Town volleyball?
“To be honest I have to give you guys (VYPE) some of the credit, because when we saw that we were placed in the “Other teams to watch” category for the preseason magazine, it really ticked the girls off,” she laughed. “They’ve really felt kind of overlooked this season. They have felt like they really have something to prove.”
“I think that not being seen as a top group before the season has been something that’s fueled their fire to prove people wrong. We don’t focus as much on winning, but we talk a lot about the culture, and being good teammates, and then we train. You combine those aspects, and you have girls who really want to play for each other. It’s a good recipe for us.”
Jamey Wright (VYPE)
Stratford has a whole slew of individuals who’ve stepped up in the big moments.
In her eighth-season as head coach, Adcock has turned to her captains, Izzy Rodriguez (Sr. DS), Sophie Corbeil (Sr. OH), and Ashley Jones (Sr. OPP) to anchor the leadership roles among the talented roster, which features the likes of fellow playmakers, Gwen Koss (So. OH), Chloe Popkin (Sr. OH/DS), Audrey Cook (So. S), and Sarah Hickman (So. OPP).
While there is no “alpha” on the court per se, that has actually proven to be beneficial for the Spartans.
“This might sound like lip service, but we value the bench incredibly in our program,” said Adcock. “We have a lot of talent that comes from that side, with several of our players splitting time. I think the leadership, for us, comes from a lot of individuals who step up in particular instances.”
“It helps when several players can be depended on and carry the weight of that responsibility, rather than one individual. We’re fortunate to always have someone who will have your back when times are tough.”
Now that the Spartans are no longer being overlooked, and have a proverbial target on their backs, how has the mentality changed for Adcock’s team?
“It really hasn’t changed much,” she said. “We have approached every single match with the mindset of ‘let’s play hard, let’s play for each other.’ Today is today, and we’re gonna tackle who’s in front of us, regardless of who’s across the net.”
“Having a target on our backs is a big responsibility, because people have this opinion of you now. But I think the girls, buy in large, enter each game with a respect for their opponent, and they aren’t focused too far ahead. We’re trying to appreciate the moment.”
Stratford is now the hunted, but that is unlikely to slow them down as they head into the remainder of their district schedule. All signs point towards a trip to the postseason and beyond, so stay tuned.
Lake Travis is a team on a mission.
The Cavs team is coming off two instrumental games in the first round of district competition with wins against rivals – Dripping Springs (3-1) and Westlake (3-0). Lake Travis is 35-4 (8-0 in district) with only weeks left in the regular season.
Ninth-year coach Brandace Boren credits her team’s success to the seniors, who have already left their legacy on the court. The Cavs earned a district title last year before reaching the Regional Tournament for the first time since moving to Class 6A.
They would ultimately fall to Dripping Springs in the Regional Final in a heated five-set bout, which made the Cavaliers’ recent win against the Tigers that much sweeter.
“I would say losing to Dripping Springs in the playoffs last year definitely motivated us for the offseason, the preseason tournament season and now district play,” said Boren. “We have some unbelievable seniors who have led the way. There’s a fire in their eyes, and they have that motivation to take back the district and push further.”
Photo provided by Coach Brandace Boren
Said leaders of the program include Duke-commit Avery Hamlin (Sr. OH), Kacey Kazmierski (Sr. S), St. Edwards-commit Carrington Jaimes (Sr. MB) and sophomore OH Adyson Davis.
In addition to the vast array of talent she has to work with from a coaching standpoint, Boren feels that her past experiences have added onto the well-established winning culture that exists in the Lake Travis program.
“Coming from San Antonio, where you have a lot of smaller players that are fierce and who work their butts off, I like to think that’s given me the chance to bring over that fighting mentality,” she said. “We have several kids who range from 5-foot-10 to 6-foot, and having a defensive mindset has helped us to improve over the years.
“We’re going to be scrappy. We’re going to have a strong work ethic, where we’re going to fight to the end against any team we play. That culture has really taken over alongside the winning mentality that was already here when I got to Lake Travis.”
Considering the momentum the Cavaliers possess, what will it take in order to carry that over into the playoffs?
“Our theme this year for our program is ‘Together We Conquer’,” Boren said. “We’re trying to conquer a mountain, in terms of the competition we expect to face. We have set goals for ourselves in order to get to the peak. As we continue to climb, we’re focusing on the short-term and what we accomplish step-by-step. If we can keep doing that, I know we can find success.”
November is right around the corner. Expect Lake Travis to be in the mix as the State Tournament nears.