SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Expectations are still high at Brandeis.
The Broncos have finished as one of the top three teams in the District 28 standings in each of the past three seasons, and last year, all-state senior setter Emily DeWalt led the team to a 30-12 overall record and a playoff berth.
This year, DeWalt is gone, and her consistent net presence will be missed. Only four seniors - Jenna Barela, Kristen Meier, Maya Smalls and Chidera Ugwokaegbe - remain on the roster, but head coach Madeline Williams is doing her best to help this team turn the page.
"It's important to let the setters know that we're not replacing an old setter that was so good," Williams said, "We're just finding new things that are going to work for Brandeis. Those short practice times that we've just really been working on connecting with our hitters."
This past Friday, the Broncos finished with a 3-2 record at the Northside Volleyball Invitational, notching wins against United and East Central. Now sitting at 9-5 overall on the young season, Williams has liked what she's seen so far.
"Consistency, good chemistry on the court, those are things that have been good for us," Williams explained. "Match by match, we're still learning. Even after changing the lineups and adding in new players, we've had good chemistry. With three days of practice, that's what most teams are using tournaments for right now: finding the right niche for their team."
Brandeis opens District play this Tuesday evening on the road at Stevens, so Williams knows the young Broncos will have to be ready to play sooner rather than later.
"We've got to come out strong from the beginning, we have a very tough district," Williams said. "We want to win. That's what every team wants, and we want to go deep in the playoff."