A season to remember at West
Dec. 24, 2010 at 6:24 a.m.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Sandy Longoria, Victoria West
TEAM OF THE YEAR: Victoria West (36-6 record, regional finalist)
This didn't look like it was going to be a good year for the Victoria West volleyball team.
After the split of Memorial, most of the experienced seniors were at Victoria East, leaving the Warriors with several unknowns and a lot of youth.
The coach from Memorial had also gone to East, and taking the job at West was Sandy Longoria, a coach with a long pedigree of success in another state.
She wasn't the first choice for the job. Wharton coach Courtney Carter got the job originally, but chose to stay where she was.
And early on, the Warriors didn't even have a home. The West gym wasn't completed in time for their season opener, forcing it to be moved to the old Memorial senior campus gym.
It was West's only home game in a month and a half.
What followed, though, was something out of a heroic sports movie. It energized the city and the fans, who started packing home games with loud crowds regularly.
It's easy to pick out individual efforts: Brooke Smith was one of the best all-around players in the area and Jessica Mickey was one of the best setters and leaders on the court of any team.
But a lot of credit goes to coach Sandy Longoria and her assistant Tracee Price for their ability to distill the raw talent of the players they had, many untested, into a championship-calibur team.
That in no way is meant to minimize the achievements of the team as a whole, which grew closer as the season went on, and more than anything realized its potential.
All of this effort led to a winning streak that lasted over two months, a consecutive games-won streak that got to dizzying heights and and ran the length of the district season.
No team was more dominant as a unit than the Warriors, and no coach in the area could touch Longoria's accomplishments.
John Hornberg covers East and West. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.