By Travis M. Smith | Ellis County Sports Sports
Volleyball season returned to Ellis County with a matchup of neighboring programs Tuesday evening in Palmer.
The host Lady Bulldogs ultimately fell to the visiting Ferris Lady Yellowjackets in straight sets, 25-11, 25-17, 25-18.
Ferris head coach Kyla Menefee, who is in her third year leading the Lady Yellowjackets, said her expectations for this year include the team having plenty of big swings from the heavy hitters in the front row. She also pointed to a strong senior class led by Callie Raleston (No. 4), Amanda Aguinaga (No. 1) and Zyara Harrison (No. 9).
Raleston is a 5-foot-11 outside hitter with a ton of hops and swing, while Aguinaga will be gunning for libero of the year in the district and Harrison brings plenty of varsity experience.
“Defense is where we are seasoned,” Menefee continued. “We have a very young group of girls joining us, too. We should be learning, always, but we have the chemistry this year that will let us make some things happen.
“[…] Our senior class is going to be strong and they’ll lead the younger group of girls. As for our weaknesses, I’d have to say it’s just that freshman group of girls learning and having to jump in so quickly. By district, they should be mixed in and ready to compete.”
Ferris has struggled a bit over the first two seasons under Menefee, compiling a 17-32 overall record and 3-16 mark in a stacked district that includes Midlothian Heritage, Life Waxahachie, Hillsboro, Alvarado, Godley and Venus.
As for Palmer, head volleyball coach Melanie Barnes stated she expects the Lady Bulldogs to challenge every side they step on the court to face.
“We aren’t the biggest team, but we are going to make you earn a win, or we’re going to win it,” Barnes added. The Lady Bulldogs are fresh off of a 14-10 campaign in 2020 that ended in a 3A bi-district playoff match against Lorena. “We have all of the athletic ability in the world to challenge any team, no matter who they are.”
Barnes noted the Lady Bulldogs’ biggest team strength comes behind the service line.
“And our only weakness is that we are a young team without a ton of varsity experience, so we’ll have to fight through that,” Barnes said.
Barnes advises Lady Bulldog fans to keep a close eye on juniors Chloe Cisneros, Cambry Cortez, Morgan Zabojnik and Alexis Villasenor, as the foursome will be the catalyst for the team’s successes.
The Yellowjackets return to action on the road at 7 p.m. next Tuesday against Mexia. They’ll then face Corsicana at 6 p.m. on the road Tuesday, Aug. 24. District 11-4A play begins at home Sept. 3 against Athens.
To view the entire Ferris volleyball schedule, visit https://bit.ly/3lRvXvT and click on “schedules.”
As for Palmer, the Lady Bulldogs will make the short trek to Keene for a varsity tournament Thursday and Saturday. Match times have yet to be announced.
The Lady Bulldogs will host the Keene Lady Charges between tournament days at 4:30 p.m. Friday in Palmer.
Palmer begins District 18-3A action on the road Friday, Sept. 10 against Rice. The Lady Bulldogs’ first home district match is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14 against Scurry-Rosser.
District 18-3A consists of Palmer, Blooming Grove, Eustace, Kemp, Malakoff, Mildred, Rice and Scurry-Rosser.
To view the entire Palmer volleyball schedule, visit https://bit.ly/3fNYtLa.
All photos by Fred Phipps/Ellis County Sports Sports
Fred Phipps/Ellis County Sports Sports contributed to this report.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith