By Dave Wagner
DORA — If experience means anything, the Dora volleyball team could be a force to reckon with this fall.
Fifth-year coach Myra Skinner has her entire squad back from a year ago. Included are four seniors who, as eighth-graders, were members of the last Lady Coyotes team to reach the regional playoffs.
“We’ve got a good bunch of kids coming back,” Skinner said. “We don’t have a lot of height, but we have a lot of heart.
“We’re hoping to get back (to regionals). We’re going to play our hearts out and see where the cards fall.”
Currently, Dora’s schedule calls for just 13 matches, and the Lady Coyotes aren’t slated to open the season until Sept. 9 when they travel to Grady.
Skinner said she hopes to be able to add a few matches, particularly early on, over the next couple of weeks.
“We’re really coming together as a team,” said 5-foot-6 senior Jena Bilberry. “We just want to go off the floor every game knowing we did everything possible to win.”
Dora advanced to the second round of last season’s District 3-1A tournament, where it was eliminated by Melrose.
“Since we have so many seniors, we’re expecting to do pretty good,” said 5-foot-7 senior outside hitter D’Shawn Pettigrew. “We just want to go out and get our serves in, and not let the ball hit the floor.”
Senior Kassandra Clark, Skinner’s daughter, also thinks the Lady Coyotes are in position to do well.
“I think our chances are pretty good,” said Clark, a 5-7 setter. “We’ve just got to keep working hard and everybody’s got to contribute.”
Skinner said the keys for Dora are developing consistency and minimizing mistakes.
“The bulk of the team is juniors and seniors,” she said. “We’re going to rely on them to come through and get things done.”
Fort Sumner, the defending 1A state runnerup, returns virtually its entire team and enters the season as the team to beat in the district.
But the Lady Coyotes aren’t conceding anything at this point.
“You never know what’ll happen in district,” Clark said. “Anyone can come up and beat anyone.”
Added 5-6 senior setter Marilyn Prewett: “I think it’s too soon to tell, but we all want to do really, really well. We’re just going to do our best.”