The season is about to start, but it never really ended.


Belton will return to the court Aug. 2, when the University Interscholastic League allows volleyball teams to begin conducting workouts in preparation for the upcoming season. One week later, the Lady Tigers open their schedule.


For some, the time for improving their skills has arrived, but that is not the case at Belton, according to Lady Tigers head coach Krystal Yerigan.


“We’re really excited to see our girls play,” she said, “because they’ve all been coming up to the gym all summer long. So, we’re looking forward to seeing what they can do when they all get together.”


“That is the best thing about getting started.”


Splitting time between strength and conditioning camps, open-gym sessions, skills practices and their individual workout routines, Yerigan expects to be impressed by her squad, and that makes her job easier.


“As a coaching staff,” she said, “we push the kids to take as many opportunities as they can to touch the ball during the summer, because it just really pays off in the fall.


“It is just a great feeling when they come in hungry for a good season and they’ve had those opportunities to be around each other and be teammates all summer.”


The Lady Tigers are desperate to improve after failing to make the playoffs last year, finishing the season with a 9-11 overall record and going 7-7 in District 12-6A. Although they lost talent, including seniors Isabel Holguin, Morgan Weber and Campbell Burnet, plenty remains.


Highlighted by 12-6A All-District Second Team selections Kylie Bloomquist and McKenzie Mansell, who are each seniors, eight juniors from last year’s roster are eligible to return.


While time will tell the Lady Tigers’ fortunes, Yerigan already knows the chemistry is rare.


“We have a unique group of young women that really want to push,” she said. “I think they are really hungry after coming off a difficult year.


“They want success, and they’ve been doing the work to obtain it. That is the most exciting thing about this year.”


Two games separated Belton from a playoff berth last season with district champion Harker Heights, Bryan, Copperas Cove and Ellison advancing, and Yerigan is expecting another competitive race.


Therefore, preparation will be key.


“The biggest thing about our district is you really have to take it one match at a time,” Yerigan said. “We are really looking forward to having those opportunities at tournaments prior to district to help us get prepared.


“Last year, we didn’t get to compete in any tournaments. We just got thrown right into district.”

By Clay Whittington