Skye Wade didn’t think long when asked about the strength of her team.
“Definitely competitiveness,” said Wade, who enters her third season leading the Houston High School volleyball team.
“I don’t know if they want to win so badly or hate to lose. But you can see it through the summer and this preseason.”
The 2014 Lady Tigers return a veteran core that includes five players who started at times last season. Added to the mix are two juniors and three sophomores who move up from junior varsity.
Wade said she has a combination of players who complement each other both on and off the court.
“This team does a good job of picking each other up and working together,” she said.
Among the veteran players is outside hitter Megan Silveus, who returns for her final season after earning first team all-conference honors as a junior. Fellow senior Nora Dixon, a middle blocker, was a second team all-conference selection.
Also returning at the net are juniors Sarah Kelley, who received honorable mention all-conference recognition, and Katelyn Martinez.
Houston’s experienced frontcourt will be supported by junior Krista Scott and sophomores Alyssa Hayes, Emily Shea and Abby Casper.
“If we get a great pass, we’ll get a kill,” Wade said. “So we’ve got to get that great pass.
“But not only that, defense leads into offense and it starts with the block. If we can do what we’re supposed to defensively, we’ll be OK offensively.”
Junior Camryn Scheets returns as the starting setter. Only this season, she will be asked to handle the duties without a backup.
“It would be a problem if we had a setter who couldn’t jump,” Wade said. “But it’s not a problem for Camryn.”
Sammy Garrett, who moved up from junior varsity, is the team’s defensive specialist.
HHS, which opened its season with a loss Tuesday at Licking and plays on the road today (Thursday) at Cuba, participated in a summer Rolla camp and traveled to the Missouri State University team camp during the offseason. Wade said the Lady Tigers placed first in their tournament bracket.
Along with the on-court competition, Wade said she has pushed her players with conditioning and agility drills to their speed and leaping.
Wade said she and assistant coach Viki Narancich have set goals for this year’s team, but they will evolve.
“I can’t necessarily pinpoint expectations because we don’t want to do that,” she said. “Expectations should be changing throughout the season as we reach them and push beyond them.”