Summer workouts and practices are important to high school sports teams.

The gatherings provide players an opportunity to improve their skills and conditioning and give coaches their first chance to see how returning players and newcomers perform and mesh.

Multiple Houston High School programs have been involved in various activities this summer, including the volleyball team.

“Our goal for the summer is to improve each workout and each practice,” said fifth-year Lady Tigers head coach Loran Richardson. “We use the summer to start figuring out which lineups work best, who works well with who on the court and who is going to put in the extra work to get better. Overall, the girls have been working hard; I’m proud of them.”

Houston lost a few of last season’s key players to graduation.

“It will be hard to replace those seniors – they did a great job on the court and leading the team,” Richardson said. “But I’ve got some key players returning who have been looking really good this summer. Not only that, I’ve got some younger girls stepping up into those varsity roles and I’m excited to see what they can do.”

Close to 30 girls have consistently been showing up to HHS volleyball practice this summer.

Freshman Angie Smith leaps high to hit a ball during an intrasquad scrimmage.

“I’m pretty excited about that,” Richardson said. “We’ve really got quite a few girls who could step up into a varsity role this year and do good things. In volleyball, the substitution rules are a little different, so typically 8-to-10 girls play in a match. We’ve got a lot of competition for spots on C team, JV and varsity.

“As long as the girls keep competing for those spots and being unselfish teammates, we will be in good shape.”

Richardson said hitting should become a strong point for Houston in the 2020 season.

“We’ve struggled having someone who can put the ball away in the past,” she said, “but we’ve got some girls this year, at all levels, who are hitting really well. I think we’re going to be much more athletic this year as well. The girls are getting stronger in the weight room and are really starting to move well on the court.

“We’ve got a long way to go and a lot to improve on, but I think we will get there quickly.”

This year’s version of the Lady Tigers appears to be a tightly-knit bunch, Richardson said.

“I’m really looking forward to this season,” she said. “The girls are fun to be around, they work hard and they treat each other like family for the most part. If they continue to believe in themselves and each other, we will see good things this fall.”

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