Lady Comanches expect to stay strong under new leadership

After dropping classifications in 2008, the West Texas Lady Comanches have established themselves as arguably the best 1A volleyball program in the Texas Panhandle and are poised to maintain that status in 2011.During the 2010 season, the Lady Comanches went undefeated in district play. With the team graduating one senior from that squad, the expectations are for the team to challenge for another District 5-1A title and make a run in the playoffs.While the team itself is much the same as last season, the Lady Comanches will be in a transition process as Brittany Snider stepped down as head coach to pursue a career in nursing. Snider’s departure resulted in the hiring of former Borger High School assistant coach Kathleen Patterson to take over the Lady Comanche volleyball program.Prior to her time as a Borger assistant, Patterson spent four years head coaching at Amarillo San Jacinto.Since the Lady Comanches’ return experienced and enjoyed success, Patterson doesn’t plan on making too many changes in the program this year saying, “Right now I am mainly working on fine tuning the basic fundamentals of the team and teaching them to play a more aggressive style. I can tell this team has been well coached so there really wasn’t a need to come in and completely change things around.”Patterson is quick to point out that having such an experienced team does present its own kind of challenges for a new coach saying, “With so much experience at the varsity level, it does cause a gap in trying to develop players within the program between the varsity and younger athletes.” The coach added that it can be difficult to get experienced players to be willing to try new things but so far the girls have been willing to do what she has asked during workouts.One of the players that has impressed Patterson during two-a-days is Devin DeLapp. DeLapp will play libero, something new to the team, but has done a good job adjusting to the position. Patterson said, “Devin has been working hard and is going to be good for the team in that position.“Cheyenne Tull, Sarah Kelly and Natalie Franklin are expected to have good seasons at the net while Abby Summers gives the team an experienced setter.Other players that will contribute on the varsity squad include Elyssa Snider, Bekah Wallace, Rachel Wallace, Samantha Horne, Erin Summers, Hailee Flaharity, Lanie Hazle and Madison Heston. In areas the team can do better to potentially make a good playoff run, Patterson is quick to point out that it will come down to passing and improving on the defensive end. Patterson said, “We have to make good passes in order to give ourselves opportunities to make plays. If we are not solid in that area it will make it difficult to win.” Patterson added, “Overall, the girls are doing a good job on defense playing the ball but we need to be quicker in our transition defense and play more of a coverage defense.” Coming off an undefeated district run, there is no question that one of the top goals for the team is another district title. For Coach Patterson the goals are even a little higher she said, “Of course there is the desire to make it to the state tournament but there are a lot of steps that need to be taken before we can start thinking that way. Repeating as district champs of course is one of our goals but I think if we play aggressive and continue to improve throughout the season then we have a realistic shot at making a run in the playoffs.”The Lady Comanches will open the 2011 season on Monday in Amarillo against Holy Cross at 11:00 a.m.