In the gym at Marion High School, a strong voice is leading the Lady Bulldogs volleyball team through a series of drills.
That voice belongs to the new head coach for the team, Taylor Creamer, who moved up from the assistant’s role and takes over the program this year from former head coach Sammy Scribner.
“The opportunity came up this spring,” Creamer said. “I was honored that coach Miller asked me if I wanted to take the job — I definitely jumped on it.
“I know these girls really well and I’ve seen them develop as players the past three years, so that’s been really nice. Taking over a program is not easy, so already having the relationships built is awesome.”
She’s using those close-knit relationships with players for help in her first year at the helm.
“As a new coach you are trying to make decisions to benefit the team,” Creamer said. “Multiple times I’ve gone to my juniors and seniors and asked ‘what do you think about trying this out?’
“They love to give their opinions and this group of kids loves to work hard. It’s such a blessing not to have to coach effort, just to be able to coach skill and strategy.”
The Lady Bulldogs had a good season last year, finishing second in District 26-3A to SA Randolph.
“We split district play with Randolph,” Creamer said. “We beat them the first game and they beat us the second. But we lost to Ingram so that hurt us a little bit.”
The two defeats were the only district losses for the team as they finished 10-2 for the second-place finish.
“We had a really good district season, we were hot at the time,” Creamer said. “Our district faces a very strong bi-district (25-3A) and we lost in the round to Johnson City, in fact, our entire district got knocked out in the first round of the playoffs.”
That gives Creamer and the team a goal for the 2019 season.
“The first order of business is to get through district and make the playoffs,” Creamer said. “The second goal is to get through that tough district in the first round.”
Marion lost just two starters to graduation from last year’s team.
“We have a lot of returning starters,” Creamer said, “so we have a lot of experience and for the first time in a couple of years we have more of an all-around team.
“We don’t really have one person that’s a big standout, but we are pretty level across the board. I like that there’s not one ‘all-star’ — everybody needs to do their part.”
A setter and outside hitter, senior Lizzie Abrameit, has been a four-year varsity starter for the Lady Bulldogs.
“She is a leader on the team and my go to for a lot of different things,” Creamer said. “She’s very competitive and knows the game well, so I expect a lot of things from her, as she does herself.”
Senior Madyson Schulze, who also plays softball at Marion, has shown vast improvement as an outside hitter since Creamer has been with the team.
“The improvement I’ve seen from her since I got here two years ago has been big since her sophomore year,” Creamer said. “She’s a vocal leader on the court and very good about keeping everybody up.”
Veronica Gonzales, also a senior, is an outside hitter and defensive specialist for Marion.
“Veronica could potentially be playing all the way around,” Creamer said. “She’s gotten very strong and she’s somebody that just hustles. The ball falling on the ground is just not an option for her.”
Senior Toryn Autry (OH) started last season, while Maddie Hill (OH) and Yuliene Yulfo (DS) move up to varsity for their senior season.
Juniors Madison Doss, Lily Bek, Molly Rooke, Kaylie Miller and Ingrid Nava have been playing for Creamer since they were freshmen.
“They were all on my freshmen team,” Creamer said. “They are a very athletic class, so I expect a lot of things from them.
“Molly will be a strong presence for us in the middle and will probably be playing opposite of Kaylie. Lily is another one of the players that gives you 110%, that’s whether she’s playing softball, basketball or volleyball.”
Going into the season with a junior and senior-laden team has Creamer excited about the possibilities this year.
“Most of them have varsity experience, which is a huge benefit,” she said. “You can see they are comfortable playing on the varsity level. A few of our younger girls are in shock with the change of speed, but for the most part, we’re not experiencing the growing pains.”
The coach expects Randolph to be tough again this year, along with some of the other teams in the district.
“They are a bit of a rival, the Highway 78 rivalry,” Creamer said. “They are always very competitive and they always have really athletic girls there, so they are always a force to be reckoned with.”
Creamer also expects Ingram and Comfort, the two teams that finished third and fourth in district last year, to be strong again.
“I’m looking forward to seeing them before district starts,” she said. “I believe they are going to be at a couple of tournaments we’re in, but we definitely won’t go into any game taking anyone lightly.”
Kevin Duke is the sports editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .