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The Decatur Lady Eagles Tuesday night began life on the road that will continue through most of the first month of the season.
In the Lady Eagles’ first 12 preseason matches or tournaments, they play in the friendly confines of Decatur High School gym only five times.
Decatur began the season with a dual match at Azle that also included Joshua. Decatur will go to the Denton Ryan Kickoff Classic Friday and Saturday. The Lady Eagles will finally play at home Tuesday against Whitesboro.
“I don’t know how our schedule ended up with not many home games,” said Decatur coach Claire Rose. “Scheduling was very difficult with when school started and district starting earlier.”
Even playing with a young team that includes only two seniors, Rose is not worried about all the road matches early.
“I don’t think it affects them,” she said. “There’s always the first home-game jitters to overcome.”
Sophomore Cooper Martin said the trips away from Decatur will be helpful as the team forms bonds.
“The home games with our fans here are fun, but so are the away games,” Martin said. “All the bus rides we all get to be together and get to watch some other teams.”
Through the first week and a half, the Lady Eagles have been trying to rebuild their rotation that lost several seniors from last year’s playoff team. Rose said the team has made progress but must continue to improve.
“We have a lot of skills to develop,” she said. “They are young and eager to learn. We want to develop individually and as a whole.
“It’s in their hands. They have to decide if we’re going to compete today or not.”
Sophomores Martin, Caroline Lowery and Makayla Mayfield have stepped up to play solid at the net along with middle blocker Darci Billmire.
“Each time we play, they get better,” Rose said.
Senior Kristen Goley’s ability to play several key roles also has impressed Rose.
“She’s doing a fine job and has worked hard to get comfortable at all the positions,” Rose said. “It’s a huge compliment for a senior to step up and say, ‘where do you need me coach?'”
The young Class 3A Lady Eagles will be tested through the first few weeks of the season playing several larger schools.
“It will help prepare us for district,” Martin said. “If we play hard teams at the beginning, the district matches will seem easier. It’ll be a learning experience.”