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Spring Hill Volleyball Coach Karen Brundrett Has High Expectations Despite Big Loss

Spring Hill volleyball standouts (right to left) Ann Hollas, Jacey Fleet, Allison Akins and Rachel Riestenberg work on ball handling during practice Thursday in Longview. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

LONGVIEW — The word “legacy” gets thrown around a lot these days when talking sports. But that’s the word Spring Hill volleyball coach Karen Brundrett used when discussing Savannah Voelzke.

Even though the former Spring Hill star is set to begin her collegiate career at Arkansas this fall, Brundrett said her legacy lives on at Spring Hill.

“That was Savannah’s legacy … what she did is she taught the younger kids when she was here,” Brundrett said during Thursday’s afternoon practice. “That’s the legacy that she left, and the kids are more improved players because of her and because of the hard work she showed. So, I think we’ll be OK.”

Brundrett couldn’t be more excited to see how Voelzke’s protege — sophomore Ann Hollas — does to follow up an outstanding freshman season.

Spring Hill’s Ann Hollas sets the ball during practice Thursday in Longview. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

“Savannah was all-East Texas newcomer and Hollas was all-East Texas newcomer, and she is right on target as far as filling those shoes,” Brundrett said of Hollas. “Ann was a little apprehensive as you can imagine, being opposite of Savannah when you’re a freshman. When the playoffs (got here) she had finally relaxed and in the Wills Point (match) they had focused on Savannah; we needed someone else to step up, and she did a tremendous job. She hasn’t looked back since.”

The Spring Hill coach credits Voelzke for Hollas’ development last season.

“Savannah remembered what it was like being a freshman on varsity, and I reminded her of that feeling and the inadequacies that go along with being with older girls,” Brundrett said. “And I said ‘at times you’re going to see Ann feel that way. You’re gonna need to remind yourself about how you needed someone to pat you on the back, and Savannah did exactly that. She would pick Ann up when Ann made mistakes and she would really praise her when she did very good things, and I think that helped Ann.”

Aside from Hollas, Brundrett is excited about her trio of seniors — outside hitter Jacey Fleet, libero Allison Akins and setter Rachel Riestenberg.

“When you have such a successful season and then you have a new group of seniors, you wonder how the transition’s going to go,” Brundrett said. “But these three seniors, they’re not very vocal but they are tremendous leaders. Their actions speak volumes and they’ve done a great job.”

Spring Hill went 38-3 last season, advancing to the Class 3A Region II semifinals where the Lady Panthers were eliminated by Argyle.

But despite losing a player the caliber of Voelzke, Brundrett sees even brighter days ahead for the Spring Hill volleyball program.

“I think with our loss to Argyle, we felt our season was cut short,” she said. “It was a very emotional loss because we didn’t reach a goal. And we see a focus with this team that we don’t want to fall short. There is a possibility, a strong possibility that we will move ahead this year.”

Spring Hill opens the season next weekend the Van tournament. The Lady Panthers begin District 16-3A play Sept. 13 at Bullard.

Spring Hill’s Jacey Fleet bumps the ball during practice Thursday in Longview. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

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