By Bill McCaughey
For the Fort Bend Star
Bush volleyball coach and English department head Veronica Owens has communicated to her team, in very clear and precise terms, what they need to do to make the playoffs this year.
“We have to play together as a team. We can’t rely on our opponent to make a mistake, and we have to execute our offense and play solid defense,” Owens said. “To be successful, we need to be a team of sisters.”
Last year, the Broncos were a young team, playing mostly sophomores and juniors. They finished in sixth place in District 20 6A with a 3-11 record. The good news is that last year’s sophomores and juniors are now juniors and seniors with varsity experience.
Brianna Etienne and Sydnee Eagleton, both juniors, are the big hitters Owens is counting on to lead the team. Etienne had 231 kills and 78 blocks last year while Eagleton had 162 kills and 225 digs.
“We are expecting a good season,” Etienne said. “We need to stay positive and get some momentum and keep it going.”
Etienne is adept at hitting the ball to unguarded spots. Eagleton, who used to run the 200 and 400 meters in track but gave it up to concentrate on volleyball, is the defensive specialist. She spent her summer working on reading the hitter to anticipate where the ball is going.
“I concentrate on watching the shoulders and elbows, and on the direction the body is facing,” Eagleton said. “We can make the playoffs if we stay positive.”
Junior setter Brianna Chavis had 398 assists last year.
“My job is to place the ball where Brianna and Sydnee can score points,” Chavis said. “Each of them has a different favorite spot to hit the ball, so it’s up to me to get it there.”
Chavis has been playing volleyball since she was eight, and is considering studying pre-med after she graduates.
Unlike a lot of high school teams, the Bush players play for different club teams in the off-season. Because of this, Owens has conducted many team-building exercises this summer.
“We tried to do a lot together this summer. We went to movies as a team, and we have had several bonding weekends where we have sleep-overs on a Saturday night and then go to church on Sunday morning,” Owens said. “We are really stressing sisterhood this season.”
If sisterhood is the key to winning, senior Keiana Hypolite will play a significant role. Hypolite, who had 51 kills and 144 digs last season, has taken on the role of team mom.
“I make sure everyone keeps a positive mindset, and stays motivated. Volleyball is an extremely mental game, and it’s easy to get down. I keep reminding everyone that we have a lot of skill on this team. We just need to stay positive,” Hypolite said.
Hypolite is a math wizard, which helps her with another important duty.
“I make sure everyone is on time. Coach Owens’ clock runs fast. If she says practice is at 8 a.m., everyone better be on the court at 7:30. Otherwise, you are late, and you should just start running your laps,” Hypolite said.
If they stay positive this year, Bush’s team of sisters just may surprise some people.