Lady ‘Stangs begin Monday

Liz Miller is beginning her 10th year as Sweetwater’s head volleyball coach, and her 2012 team — which will tip off play on Monday by hosting Grape Creek at 6:15 p.m. — also has a great deal of returning experience.Of the team’s 12 players, eight are seniors and five of them — or 83 percent of the starting rotation — earned all-district honors in 2011.Furthermore, all five — middle blockers Kathleen Campbell and Shelby Cason, outside hitters Kel-si Crosson and Kendra Crosson and setter Suede Shirley — have at least two years of varsity experience.Rounding out this year’s team are seniors Angela Garza, Destiny Osteen and Janell Walker and juniors Larissa Locklar, Taylor McPherson, Kayla Chown-ing and Mikki Reschman. McPherson and Locklar are also returning lettermen. Sweetwater hasn’t made it to the playoffs since 2008, and again faces a big hurdle getting out of a district that includes Abilene Wylie and Monahans — two of the state’s best 3A programs — plus Big Spring, Snyder and Greenwood. As a result, Miller scheduled what she calls a “very aggressive” pre-district schedule to get her players ready.“By the time district rolls around, I want us to be mentally tough so it won’t be scary,” she said. “I want them to get that killer determination at the beginning.”The Lady Mustangs certainly won’t be lacking for senior leadership. “I think there’s a different mentality this year,” Miller said. “It’s more of a family atmosphere, more unified, and I think that’s going to be to our benefit. This group has come a long way. They’ve worked so hard and they’ve matured a lot.”