STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
Faith Academy of Marble Falls head volleyball coach Frances Flanagan was confident her Lady Flames would have a successful pre-district season but admits even she didn’t know it would be this successful.
As in undefeated.
The Lady Flames ran the table throughout August for a perfect 17-0 record. That also set a program record for the most wins in a season.
It’s not just the number of wins; it’s the dominating way Faith has won.
Until the Lady Flames’ win against San Marcos Academy on August 29, Faith hadn’t dropped a set.
“I was surprised at 8-0,” Flanagan said about her team’s undefeated record. “They are just calm. They’ll come back and win. I was pretty certain we were going to have a winning record. I thought maybe we’ll reach what we did last year.”
The 2018 Lady Flames were 11-2 before the start of District 3-3A of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools.
Prior to this season, the coach hoped the Lady Flames would win one tournament. They have won two: their own on August 10 and the Memorial Christian tournament in Killeen on August 17.
But it was on the night of August 13 when Flanagan realized how strong the Lady Flames really are.
Fredericksburg Heritage School pulled out ahead, but the Faith players just focused on serving and serve-receive to get their offense going. Then, they went after Heritage one point at a time.
When the Lady Flames dropped their first set of the season to San Marcos, Flanagan was curious to see how they would respond. She immediately contemplated how to get her players motivated, but she didn’t have to.
The players took it upon themselves, rallying each other, and seeing what they needed to do. One of the things that stood out to Flanagan was hearing the players simply say they just had to win in four sets instead of three.
“This team doesn’t overreact,” the coach said. “They keep calm. They sneak back up on you. They keep me calm because they do that. Before, I think we panicked. We don’t panic anymore.”
As Flanagan enters her fourth year leading the Faith volleyball program, her and the players’ efforts are bearing fruit. Over the past three years, Flanagan has focused on building depth in the program from subvarsity on up. This gives the younger student-athletes opportunities to develop their skills and well as learn Flanagan’s complex offensive system.
Her scheme has four setters, which makes it difficult for opposing coaches and their players to figure out how to defend it.
It also helps that she has four seniors — Karson Cain, Savannah Holubec, Greysen Lenz, and Juliette McCannon — who lead the program by example in developing friendships and rapport, encouraging each other and accepting each person as they are.
“They’re a fun group,” the coach said. “They had a lot of experience the last two years. They had to. They have a confidence in their abilities. They definitely bought into the system.”
The Lady Flames begin district play at Temple Central Texas Christian, 47141 Texas 93 West in Temple, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, September 17.
“They are all on the same page,” Flanagan added about her team. “They are very confident in what they do.”