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Port Neches-Groves volleyball leaning on talented freshmen & experienced upperclassmen

The Port Neches-Groves volleyball team will have more new faces than fans are used to seeing.

Second-year head coach Brittany Fruge said this year’s team will be the youngest she has led in her career. Fruge said her team will feature as many as five freshmen, the most she has ever had on varsity.

“The learning curve is big there, but they are so hungry and so excited and bring great energy,” she said. “I’m very excited about this class that is coming up. Our returners have been so great to accept them with open arms and get us all on one page.”

The coach added while this is a “rebuilding year” for the program, she still has high expectations.

“Anytime we are in the gym, we want to get at least one percent better,” she said. “Eventually, it will pay off.”

Fruge is looking to seniors Sarah Grove, Lydia Garza and Trista Hughes to lead the team.

“Lydia Garza came out of her shell last year,” Fruge said. “She’s so excited to be a senior and loves the game so much. I’m excited to watch her. She’s so good with our younger ones. With Halley Smith being gone, Trista Hughes knew she had some big shoes to fill, and you can tell that was her mentality the first day we came into practice. She came and was ready to go.”

Fruge said she would also like to see the versatile Reese Weatherford emerge as a leader for her younger teammates.

The coach said some of the freshmen have caught her eye during the offseason.

“Addison Bost, who is out with an ankle injury, seems like she has a lot to bring to the table,” Fruge said. “Another one that I did not know a whole lot about was Allie Wright. She is an absolute workhorse. She is an awesome defender. I could make her into a setter. She is a very, very athletic kid. I’m excited about her and Cassie Carpenter. Those three are going to be something special.”

The team will scrimmage against alumni Friday in preparation for Tuesday’s season opener against Diboll at home.

“(Our team) is very excited to get on the floor and play,” Fruge said. “We were out two weeks with the hurricane and it’s time to get out there and compete. Volleyball usually starts before now. I know they are ready. Practice is always necessary and needed, but athletes need to compete. That’s what they are hungry to do.”

Following the game against Diboll, PNG will play against Kingwood Park, Manvel and Foster to wrap up the preseason.

Fruge said scheduling tough non-district opponents is important for a young team and helps prepare them for the rigors of district play.

“We are in a very tough district this year,” she said. “I think it is super important to give these girls an opportunity to see what that competition is going to look like. I’m thankful that we are even able to have some sort of preseason. I was really concerned that we weren’t going to have one.”

PNG will face Diboll at home. The match is set to start at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

PNG volleyball 2020 schedule
(All varsity match times, unless otherwise indicated, at 6:30 p.m.; home matches in BOLD; *-indicates 21-5A match)

September: 11 Alumni scrimmage, 15 vs. Diboll, at Kingwood Park, 18 at Kingwood Park, 19 at Manvel/Foster, 22 vs. West Brook, 25 at Dayton*, 29 vs. Crosby*

October: 2 at Barbers Hill*, 6 vs. Galena Park*, 9 at Beaumont United*, 13 at Galveston Ball, 16 at Nederland*, 20 at Port Arthur Memorial*, 23 at Crosby*, 27 vs. Barbers Hill*, 30 at Galena Park*

November: 3 vs. Beaumont United*, 10 vs. Nederland*, 13 vs. Port Arthur Memorial*