Despite a second trip to the state championship in school history last year, the Faith Academy Lady Knights fell just shy of the ultimate prize but they maintain the craving for a return trip.
Head coach Josh McLain and this 2019 brand of Faith Academy volleyball knows what it will take to get back to the big stage.
“Last year was just another step in the right direction to keep this program competing at the highest level possible,” McLain said, heading into his third year at the helm of the program. “The girls put themselves in a position to win a state championship and that’s all any coach could want from their team.”
The Lady Knights have picked right back up from where they left off and opened their season to the tune of a 5-1 record through an individual game and a tournament hosted at Faith Academy in Bellville.
The tournament brought plenty of other schools bigger than the Class 1A the Lady Knights play in, including 6A schools like St. John’s, Alpha Omega, and Faith West. On top of that, a Houston Lamar team made the trip to town and actually met Faith Academy in the consolation championship where the hosts took care of business, 2-0, to earn bronze.
That swing outside of their normal-sized opponents is just part of the preparation in building up confidence in the team.
“At this point of the season, every team is working on finding an identity. We beat a good Lamar team,” McLain said. “We were our own worst enemy against Tomball Rosehill in the semi-finals. I think our team missed seven or eight serves against Rosehill. We have to do better and be more consistent.”
The coach will be looking for that steady play by the time district play begins and he will be looking for much of the same successes the team found last year.
“When District 9-A rolls around, our biggest challenges should come from Alvin Living Stone and Southwest Christian, they have been the more successful teams in the past,” McLain said. “We didn’t drop a set in district last season. The girls respect district play and understand that comes first no matter what. This team has to focus on our side and what we can do. If they do, we will be fine.”
He added that heading into his sixth year of coaching high school volleyball, half of those spent coaching the Lady Knights, has brought familiarity and a comfort level with his players.
“With it being my third year, a system is in place. The girls are accustomed to a routine and with each other,” McLain said. “Our freshman class, if they stay together, will carry the program like our seniors now did when I arrived during their sophomore year. These freshmen are making the gym competitive, which is great to see.”
Altogether, the entire group has one thing in mind, and McLain is right there with them.
“It should be a fun ride again to get back to the state championship,” he said. “Every player has listed it as a goal and that’s what we’re aiming for again.”
Faith Academy Sports contributed to this report.