Volleyball doesn’t receive the credit it deserves.

It is often an overlooked sport. Every year, talented programs go virtually unnoticed on campuses across the state.Regardless of pedigree or potential, teams can become an afterthought in the student body’s collective mind.

Competing for attention during football season – perhaps the most cherished time of year for any high school sports fan – is understandably difficult. From late August until almost Christmas, Friday nights are dominated by football, and, for better or worse, that will never change.

While I am one of the many who are fanatical about football, volleyball has worked its way into heart and over time become one of my favorite sports to cover.

To be forthcoming, prior to reporting on high school sports as a profession, I never paid attention to volleyball. I poorly attempted to play every once in a while during gym class and saw Maverick, Goose and Iceman diving around on a sand court during Top Gun, and that was pretty much my exposure to the sport.

Then I started covering volleyball, and it didn’t take long to realize I had been missing out.

It is just a great sport to watch. It is fast paced and requires split-second reactions. The kills can be a vicious as any slam dunk, while solid serving can intimidate like a well-thrown curveball.

It is literally a game of inches and a slight variation in strategy either offensively or defensively can determine the outcome.

Some of the girls who play are legitimate, big-time athletes capable of jumping out of the gym or diving across the floor for a dig, and for my dollar, in general, at the high school level, volleyball rivals almost any other sport in terms of excitement.

So, when I received a text stating Copperas Cove’s seasons was less than three weeks away from starting, admittedly, I smiled.

Not only does it mean the game returns to courts, it signifies the beginning of something bigger. Like a rooster’s cry indicates newness of day, volleyball is the first sign of athletic life in area high schools.

Needless to say, under the surface, in various sports, kids have been practicing, attending camps and doing strength and conditioning to prepare for the upcoming seasons, but to the general public, the start of volleyball season is the opening of a new chapter in their sporting almanac.

Volleyball is the sport that welcomes students back to school before football whips them into a frenzy.

For Copperas Cove, the volleyball season begins on August 12 at home against Leander Rouse, while Lampasas and Gatesville start the following day.

Some might argue the best time of any sporting season is the playoffs because it is a battle between the best of the best. I, however, would argue that point.

Personally, my favorite time of any season is right at the beginning when every team is full of hope, promise, vigor and hunger. It is that brief period of time before the contenders and pretenders separate. The wins are extremely sweet and losses do not defeat any spirits.

Symbolically, volleyball is that point in the school calendar. Everything is fresh across the board for all sports, and the volleyball team gets the first opportunity to draw on the school’s clean slate.

Last year, the Lady Bulldawgs produced one of the best seasons in the program’s history, only to be followed by an extremely impressive year as whole for the entire athletic program.

Can a direct correlation be made between the volleyball team’s success and all the success that followed? No, but if a school’s fanbase rallies around its volleyball team, the camaraderie and school spirit can spread like wildfire into subsequent sports seasons.

Volleyball should not be ignored. It is compelling, and its return is a beacon of light after a long night void of true competition.

Years ago, I would not have cared, but now I cannot wait for volleyball season’s first serve, and I hope all the students in area schools appreciate the sport for everything it is and everything it represents.

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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