The Paradise Lady Panthers lost five seniors to graduation, including a pair of four-year starters in setter Makenna Burt and libero Makala Neighbors.
But Paradise coach Susie Burt still expects the Lady Panthers to be in the hunt for a league crown and playoff berth this year.
“We’ve got big shoes to fill but we’ve got several girls coming up who are ready and have potential,” Burt said.
Paradise finished runner-up last year in 9-2A to state semifinalist Brock. This year, they move into the new 9-3A with Bowie, Boyd, Henrietta, Holliday, Jacksboro, Nocona and City View.
“We are excited to go into the new district,” Burt said.
Jett Preather is the Lady Panthers’ leading hitter returning. She recorded 211 kills last year to earn first-team all district. She will have Shelby Bradshaw, Johnna Headley and Reagan Taylor beside her. Bradshaw had 87 kills and 84 digs last year.
“They’ve played all summer long and are excited about their senior year,” Burt said.
Junior Amber French also is expected to be a strong hitter for the Lady Panthers.
“Her hitting has gotten so much stronger,” Burt said.
Emily Corbin split time with Makenna Burt last season at setter. She will share the role this year as coach Burt works in another young setter.
Paradise will be looking for a defensive-minded player to step into the libero spot.
“We’re working on finding someone that is not scared of the ball,” Burt said. “All the teams we will face have tremendous hitters.”