Pearland has tools to reach the playoffs again

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Around this time last year, Jamie Gill was in scramble mode, her mind moving as fast as she wanted her players to work.

Now in her second year leading the Pearland High School volleyball team, Gill remains in top gear but filled with more knowledge and a greater familiarity with her Lady Oilers.

“Knowing the kids is a plus, and obviously we’re better prepared,” Gill said.

“Our players are also better prepared for me, and they know what the expectations are.

“That part won’t have to be taught.”

Pearland produced an impressive 34-13 record last year and advanced to the second round of the playoffs, losing a tough match in five sets to Deer Park.

Five players return to shape what Gill hopes will be another talented playoff team.

Those returnees include 6-foot-1 sophomore middle tackle Kimmani Rugley; second libero Maddie Dement; senior right side forward Madie Whitehead; senior outside forward Rachelle Reed; and junior intermediate blocker Allie Schwartz.

Once practices and scrimmages begin, Gill will have a better idea of ​​how her team will materialize, and she’s happy with the team’s work ethic so far.

“They worked every day out of season. We did some skill stuff and worked on their mindset,” Gill said.

“It was fun watching them grow in leagues and tournaments over the summer, and I can see a different level of maturity in their mental game.

“They don’t come down. They want to fight for points. This shyness was not there that I saw sometimes last year.

Gill’s observations obviously have her eager to reconnect with her players.

“My passers are very young and none have any experience in academia,” the second-year Lady Oiler boss said.

“Defensively, we should be good on the counter side. Our top priority is to establish the passer-batter connection.

“We will have to see which player will be the best piece of the puzzle. I have the batters to run a 6-2, but I’m trying to find two setters.

Pearland is hosting the John Turner Classic this year at the Absolute Volleyball Academy before also competing in Volleypalooza in Leander and the Clear Creek Independent School District tournament.

The Lady Oilers have scheduled out-of-district games against Fort Bend Ridge Point, Friendswood and Clear Creek in addition to the rigorous tournament grid.

“I want to pile on the preseason as hard as I can,” Gill said.

“Our team won’t be as big as last year, but I think we’ll make up for it defensively.

“We’ll be young physically and mentally, and because of that, we just have to get the young players to buy into what we’re doing and not be afraid to go all out.”

Pearland and Dawson are set to fight for the 23-6A District title again, and Gill hopes his team can become league champions this season.

“I really think both teams will be great all the way,” Gill said. “Coach (Lauren) Leth is doing a great job with his program at Dawson.

“My kids really want this title, and anything can happen on any given day. Both teams will be good so it should be interesting.

“As far as the playoffs go, I expect to see us in the third round or further. This is the goal and the expectation.

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