There is a sense of optimism in the SHS Competition Gym as the Stafford High Volleyball Team prepares for the 2019 season.
Stafford head coach Ivana Ellas enters his third season as head coach, and fifth overall with the program.
“I don’t see why we can’t make it to the playoffs,” Ellas said. “It will take hard work, dedication, community support and parent support. This group is eager and wants to improve.”
The Lady Spartans will compete for their first playoff appearance since 2015, with eight seniors returning, including starters Jayla Pratt (outside hitter), Destiny Ugo (right side hitter), Robin Robinson (middle blocker) and Kayla Alexander (outside hitter).
Both Pratt and Robinson qualified for the Class 4A UIL State Track & Field Championships last spring. Ellas said that success can translate on to the volleyball court.
Junior setter Asia McKenzie and junior defensive specialist Briana Clark return, along with sophomore libero Madison Collins.
Ellas said she is determined to build a program, from the Middle School level through varsity.
Mark Spivey will coach the Freshman Team this fall, and Karen Graham – a new hire from Brookshire Royal – will coach the Junior Varsity.
Ellas always creates a challenging non-district schedule. The Lady Spartans will open at Huffman-Hargrave on Tuesday, Aug. 6. They’ll face Carnegie Vanguard in their home opener on Aug. 16.
Stafford will compete in three tournaments this month, all of which will feature several Class 6A and 5A programs, including the Dickinson Tournament (Aug. 15 & Aug. 17), the George Ranch Tournament (Aug. 22-24) and the 14-Team Stafford Tournament (Aug. 29 & 31).
Ellas will have a chance to host her alma mater, 5A Galveston Ball, on Aug. 27 and visit 6A Katy Morton Ranch on Sept. 6. The Lady Mavericks are coached by Ellas’ older sister, Gabriella Touissant.
In district, Stafford will face top opponents such as Needville and Fulshear. They will likely compete with Sealy and El Campo for a playoff spot.