Volleyball welcomes coach McCully back, eyes district crown

After sitting out last season because of an illness, Frenship coach Jennifer McCully is ready to lead the Tigers to the top of district play once again.

McCully, 34, has an autoimmune condition that sidelined her last year, at times making it difficult for her to walk let alone coach high school volleyball.

“I was in so much pain that volleyball was in the back of my mind,” she said. “I was in survival mode pretty much. Just trying to stay alive for my family was my priority.”

Now she’s back in coaching condition and ready to lead.

After a 0-2 start to the season, she’s also not pulling any punches with her analysis of the team.

“(The losses) helped me realize how much work we have to do,” she said.

Yep, she’s back.

The Tigers lost to Abilene Wylie and San Angelo Central in straight sets Monday to kick off the 2012 campaign.

The Tigers lost four seniors from last year’s regional quarterfinal team and turn to a handful of new starters to help lead the charge.

“I knew that this year was going to be tough,” McCully said. “We lost four great seniors, and I knew it was going to be — I don’t want to say a rebuilding year, but I knew it was going to be a year that we went through some growing pains.”

The Tigers have a little more than a month to deal with any growing pains before they start District 4-4A play Sept. 22

In that time, McCully expects seniors Malori Maddox and Amber Brown and junior Kelsie French to lead the way, particularly on defense.

Maddox played libero last year, and moved to more of an outside setter position this season.

McCully said the Maddox needs to touch the ball as much as possible for the Tigers, so the move should prove beneficial in the long run.

Maddox said she is still getting used to the change.

“It was a shock at first, but each day is getting better,” Maddox said. “I’m not used to setting, but my team has been really patient with me. We’re trying to work together and make the best out of it.”

French is moving to the libero position to take over for Maddox, and McCully expects the team to work well around the junior’s quickness.

McCully also pointed out sophomore Emily Ladd who has good potential to help lead the offense.

Bowman, at 6-foot-1, adds much desired height to the team, and the senior is ready to take an active leadership role.

She also believes this year’s team can do more than just qualify for playoffs.

“Every year we like to say, ‘oh let’s win it,’ but I feel like this year we really do have the chance to go out and win every game and that’s what we want to do this year,” Bowman said.

Bowman said it was difficult to see her coach sidelined last year with a scary illness, but she is just excited for the season to get in full swing.

McCully shares Bowman’s enthusiasm, too, and looks forward to the team’s next matches in the Canyon Randall Tournament on Friday and Saturday.

“I’m excited to back,” McCully said. “It has been a long road, but I’m glad I’m here facing the challenge of trying to make the team better.”

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