Incoming Van Alstyne High School seniors Alyssa Hill, Brittany O’Hanlon, Janea Lariviere, Rachel Greve and the rest of the Lady Panthers Volleyball team are set to take on district rivals in the upcoming regular season. The Van Alstyne High School volleyball team has dedicated time in the weeks before school to work on skills and strategy from the new coaching staff’s sharp and fresh perspective.

The Lady Panthers will have a chance to further evaluate the competition to be expected this season as the team hits the road, traveling to rival schools for scrimmages against Tioga on Friday followed by Sunnyvale on Saturday.

“As usual, these first scrimmages in Tioga and Sunnyvale are going to help solidify our personnel choices and hopefully allow our coaching staff to see what kind of offensive and defensive options we are going to have this year,” Head Coach Veronica Valdez said.

The Lady Panthers volleyball team has been moving in a positive direction and responding well to instruction from their new coach, she said.

“The best attribute this team has is their willingness to be coachable,” Valdez said. “These girls have done an amazing job of buying into the new ideas and themes I’ve brought to the table this year.”

The Lady Panthers volleyball team has adapted well and shown improvement with competition on the court and coaching approach, she said, but the players still face many of the same challenges sports teams often face at the beginning of each season.

“Communication on the court is always something that high school-level teams struggle with until they learn how to do it correctly and effectively,” Valdez said. “This team has some work to do in that area, but it’s nothing we can’t accomplish.”

As the Lady Panthers work to break down any barriers and improve from the lessons yet to be learned, the athletes and coaching staff are hopeful for a successful season.

“They are going to be out of their comfort zone quite a bit this year,” Valdez said. “And I think they will do a great job of adjusting and learning as we move through the season.”

August marks the beginning of one of the most anticipated seasons for the Van Alstyne High School Lady Panthers Volleyball program in recent years. The team is looking to start the season strong before their first official appearance in Ponder on Aug. 8 by winning the scrimmages over Tioga and Sunnyvale. The Lady Panthers have playoff goals in mind at the start of the season. Earning a spot in the playoffs is one of the primary first-year goals for Valdez, but a close secondary would be winning games in a friendly rivalry over her former school.

“Since I was previously at Farmersville, that will definitely be a healthy rivalry this year,” she said.

The Lady Panthers volleyball team will host Farmersville at Van Alstyne High School on Sept. 15.

“I’m so glad that the season is finally upon us,” Valdez said. “The girls did a great job on the first day of two-a-days, and I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of progress we make over the next few weeks.”

The Lady Panthers will officially begin the 2017 volleyball season on the road with the match against Ponder on Aug. 8. The senior players and other returning members of the Lady Panther volleyball team have been especially looking forward to the first game of the season for an opportunity to meet the district rival volleyball team on the court again.

“Ponder will be a big game for us,” Valdez said.