CROWLEY — When Notre Dame coach Tara Young began preparing for the 2015 volleyball season, she said she expected big things out of her group.
Mainly because she also had similar expectations last year — a year when the team lacked leadership and finished 17-14. The turnaround to a 30-8 record and top three seed in the Division IV playoffs is directly attributed to the leadership one more year brought, Young said.
“Mainly, we have most of the same girls as last year,” Young said. “We only graduated one senior. It’s essentially the same team. Most of our players were juniors, and now they’ve got some senior leadership. Last year, they just weren’t ready to step up and lead.”
Young said another year of club volleyball for Grace Morgan, Sammie Leger and Anne Faulk did wonders for them mentally. Young emphasized the importance mentally of being a senior and said last year, some of the juniors didn’t want to step on any toes.
“I think it’s that mindset of ‘it’s not my turn,’ ” Young said. “I think they become seniors, and it’s their turn. These seniors look at it as their turn, and now they’ve stepped up and taken on the role.”
Young said Morgan, a 6-foot-1 center who has verbally committed to Rice, as well as Leger and Faulk are the key components to what makes the Pioneers run. She said even though she may have expected big things, she’s still proud of them for getting a first- round bye in the playoffs.
“You get yourself into trouble when you expect anything,” Young said. “I expected it last year, and we just weren’t ready. I think we were certainly expecting from this group a turn around.
“We really pushed our way into the top three. We were sitting at four most of the season, and we’re extremely proud that they pushed their way up. Sitting at three is much better than sitting at four.”
The Pios will play the winner of Haynes Academy and Catholic High of New Iberia as their first opponent in the playoffs. Young said she thinks Catholic High will come out of that match as the winner, and that leaves her a bit unsettled.
“I think Catholic High should beat Haynes, even though they’re the lower seed,” Young said. “They’re in our district, and we beat them soundly. That’s unsettling. I just told my girls that we cannot overlook Catholic High. I know that is a team that we beat, but if we look beyond them and prepare for someone else, we’ll be in trouble. I don’t want my players to be overconfident and not focusing on the team we need to focus on.”