Lady Bulldogs prepare for new season

Posted 8/11/20

The North Zulch volleyball team opened their revised regular season slate Tuesday in Franklin after a sporadic offseason in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Lady Bulldogs prepare for new season

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The North Zulch volleyball team opened their revised regular season slate Tuesday in Franklin after a sporadic offseason in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the coronavirus, the Lady Bulldogs, led by a large group of returning seniors, were able to train during the summer while adhering to standard protocols put forth by officials and now enter their regular season hungry to reach new heights in a new district and classification.

“Initially, when we let out, our kids lost their softball and track seasons,” said Coach Melissa Padgett, who enters her second season at the helm in North Zulch. “We were given the green light to start workouts (in June). We made it a week, we got shutdown, we went back for a few days and were shutdown again. We ended up getting about three-and-a-half weeks in of total workouts.”

The Lady Bulldogs squad comprised of nine seniors made the most of the summer workouts they were given by navigating Padgett’s rigorous conditioning expectations, including pushing a pickup truck together as a team. The team pushed the truck one mile after they had already ran a mile and participated in a 20-minute workout.

“Our kids were very dedicated,” said Padgett. “I don't know if it was cabin fever or if they were just ready to get back into the swing of things. We are very senior-heavy this year, so they are super excited about the opportunity they have this season.

“The truck push has kid of been a staple that has followed me throughout my career, I did it in college with my teammates. It is about team-bonding more than anything. All of the teams I have ever coached have pushed the truck.”

The team also focused on skill acquisition as well as getting faster. After competing in one of the top 2A districts a season ago and narrowly missing the postseason, the Lady Bulldogs will compete in 1A in 2020 and share a district with Normangee, Iola, Leon, Calvert, Centerville, Mumford and Hearne.

“Dropping down a classification, the girls know there is an opportunity to go far,” said Padgett. “We did lose a few key seniors, but there are girls ready to step into those positions.”

Like the rest of the state, the Lady Bulldogs will not have the luxury of competing in preseason tournaments during the 2020 season. Tournaments were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was pretty upset about (losing tournaments),” said Padgett. “I was so excited coming in that I had my schedule nearly done in early February after the reclassifications. I wanted my girls to be as prepared as possible and I felt like I had us in three pretty good tournaments.”

The UIL is allowing teams to compete in dual, Saturday matches in lieu of traditional tournaments, which would allow schools to compete against two opponents at one location on Saturdays prior to district play.

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