Gatesville junior middle blocker Kayla McGiboney is one of only two starters returning for the Lady Hornets volleyball team this season.
After losing five players to graduation, including District 8-3A’s offensive and defensive players of the year and a pair of first-team members, from the roster, McGiboney inherited leadership positions both on and off the court, and thus far, she has thrived. Coming off a four-set victory against Burnet on Tuesday, the Lady Hornets are 17-14 overall and undefeated through the first two games of district play.
There were lots of changes to the team during the offseason. How is the team gelling so far?
“I think we are coming along pretty good. At first, we had a rough start, and we weren’t all playing together as a team, but I think we got use to each other, so we are playing better.”
What was that adjustment period like for you?
“Like (head coach Rickey) Phillips said, we are not really remaking the team, we are just rebuilding. We’re not starting over, we are just rebuilding. It was hard to lose all of them, but we’ve come together and showed people that we can still be Gatesville.”
For you, what is it like to have an increased role on the floor?
“Its been fun. I feel like I’m under pressure sometimes, but as a team, we all play together well. Just being able to play, I feel blessed, but there is pressure.”
Did you have to take on any added responsibilities as a leader with the departure of so many players?
“Yes, but all of the returners are leading the team, and we all have to step up and be leaders like (all the players did) last year.”
Is that a role you enjoy?
“Sometimes. We are all friends, so it is kind of hard to get onto each other, but we all know what happens on the court stays on the court. Nothing from outside of school goes onto the court.”
Now that you are in district, is the team about where you expected it would be by this point in the season?
“Yes. We still have a lot of things we need to work on and fix, but I feel we are in a good spot right now.”
Gatesville has won seven district championships since 2003, and I’m sure that is the team’s goal again this year. What is it going to take to make that a reality?
“We are all just going to have to play together as a team and all get along and just do what we can to win.”
Knowing the program’s history of success, what it is like to be a part of that?
“It feels great, especially winning almost every game that we play. Being together (is nice) because we all get along really well.”
As a junior, you have a lot of your high school volleyball career in front of you. Have you set any specific goals for yourself that you want to achieve before graduating?
“I haven’t really thought about it. I just plan to win and keep our team together and play the best we can.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com