Abilene Cooper enjoyed its finest volleyball season in nearly two decades a year ago.
The Lady Cougars, who finished 18-11 overall and 8-4 as the runner-up in District 4-5A, won their first playoff game since 2002. In fact, Cooper won two playoff games and advanced to the regional quarterfinals in making its deep postseason run in school volleyball history. Canyon Randall beat Cooper 3-1 in the regional quarterfinals after the Lady Cougars had knocked off Amarillo Tascosa and El Paso Horizon in the first two rounds of the 5A playoffs.
For the Lady Cougars to repeat last year’s success, however, they are going to have to do with a new lineup. Nora Campbell, beginning her 17th season as the head coach at Cooper, returns only four letter winners and just one starter from last year’s squad. The Lady Cougars graduated eight letter winners, including three players (Jen Willis, Bri Garcia and Dazz Larksins) who signed to play college volleyball.
Campbell knows that the team’s lack of experience will be a factor early in the season, but she believes the Lady Cougars can be a contender for a playoff spot again this year.
“This team will see lots of growth as they adapt to the varsity level this season,” Campbell said. “We have strong back-to-back classes who are putting the time in outside of school to better their game.”
Senior Ana Tetja, a 5-10 middle blocker, is the only returning starter for the Lady Cougars. “Ana has the most experience as a returning middle, playing with our 2020 seniors,” Campbell noted.