Brand new program heads to the playoffs in inaugural season
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The high school volleyball regular season is in the books, but our central Texas’s newest program is not done playing just yet.
Chaparral High School - a brand new high school made of up kids from four different Killeen schools - has earned a spot in the UIL volleyball playoffs less than three months after most of the girls on the team met for the first time at tryouts.
Head Coach Sarah Neal said she didn’t really know what to expect from her team this year: “I had no idea what kind of kids I was going to have, grade level, spread. I saw a few of them at strength and conditioning camp, but you don’t touch a ball. You run and lift.”
You would think the first few weeks of practice would be a little awkward, but the girls insist they bonded almost immediately.
Senior Nevaeh Halbach explains, “We clicked very fast. The first practice I was a little scared and nervous because I didn’t know anyone, but then, like we all became like family pretty fast.”
As the group grew closer, they all opened up, making practices and games more and more fun.
Senior Catyn Wright laughs, “We are the most talkative and craziest group I think I’ve ever had to play for. We are fun, exotic people who just. Pour out our hearts onto the court and off the court.”
The laughs keep the girls loose during practices and games, which has helped the Bobcats rack up wins in district play.
Wright elaborates, “If you have fun while playing, it just makes you forget about anything that might go wrong or anything might go bad so it just helps you take your mind off of things and just play better.”
Coach Neal adds, “I try not to be that coach who’s like ‘if you make an error, you’re coming off the floor’. They’re not perfect, they’re teenagers.”
The team has just three seniors, but those three have all taken on leadership roles, and they all understand that their small group has left a permanent mark on this program.
“It goes down in history! We are bringing a name to Chaparral as tradition begins,” says senior Iyannah Cano.
As the girls think about their accomplishments this year, and the foundation they have set for years to come, Coach Neal hopes they also take some time to live in the moment when the postseason begins next week.
“I want them to soak in the moment and realize what a big deal it is for a first-year program with such young kids to go to playoffs. I want them to enjoy every possible moment because for some of them this is the end of volleyball and for some of them it’s like this is just the beginning.”
Chaparral will play Brenham in the opening round of the playoffs on Tuesday, November 1st, at Taylor High School.
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