Lisa Esmond’s Plano volleyball team will have a whole new look this fall, with all but two starters gone off a 24-win team.
So it’s good to have Kaylee Read around.
Read, all-conference and all-area, is back for her fourth season as the Reapers’ setter. She’s acclimating herself well to a new group after five seniors graduated and Annabelle Miller graduated early off last year’s team.
“We’ve definitely had a lot of JV players come up, we had a lot of seniors leave,” Read said. “There is a lot of new stuff going on. I think everything is going good.”
Read, and Plano, enjoyed a memorable 2018 season, going 24-13 and finishing in the top four in every tournament. Read and then-senior Kenzie Waldrop shared setting duties last year, but Read could be setting exclusively this fall. Part of that is necessity, as Rachel Martinez – another returning setter – tore her ACL playing basketball.
“I’m trying to decide if a 5-1 is the best bet because Kaylee is such a strong hitter, too. It’s tough to pull her out [from hitting],” Esmond said, “but what she puts up on that second ball, I don’t know if we can take her out of that position either. That’s been our struggle, is what is best for our team. We have kids that can step into the setting position, but Kaylee does it very well and makes it look so easy.”
Read set and hit this summer, but setting is her first love. She started when she was in the seventh grade.
“I feel like I’m almost drawn to where the ball is going,” Read said. “Any time I can get my hands on the ball it’s a good feeling.”
Read found she regained her passion for volleyball last fall, partly because of the success Plano had.
“That group of girls, it was awesome what we had,” Read said. “The energy from the fans, it was awesome. I hope everybody on the team gets to that experience. It’s truly the best feeling.”
Esmond has 17 girls in this group, with several positions up for grabs. Senior Alyssa Smith, a third-year returning varsity player, figures in the back row. Junior Anna Gonzalez probably is Plano’s best hitter. Senior Kelsey Edwards and junior Judy Chavez also return.
Esmond coached the junior class in seventh and eighth grade, and is pleased that none that are still in Plano have quit the sport.
“The ones in the program have stayed in the program, five seniors and 12 juniors,” Esmond said. “It’s cool to see their growth. They’re genuinely good kids.”
Esmond will get a better idea of what she has early. The Reapers play eight matches the first week of the season.
“I see moments where girls are fighting for it and moments they’re not,” Esmond said. “I think that will be the team’s biggest goal. They have to challenge themselves in order to challenge each other.”
For Read, this school year could very well be her swan song athletically.
The multisport star, who also was an all-area player in softball, is not looking at playing sports in college. She found a passion for weightlifting last year, enjoys how the body grows and heals on its own, and is looking at pursuing a degree in physical therapy to remain close to the athletic field.
“I definitely have thought about it, that this could be my last year. It’s bittersweet,” Read said. “I’m ready to go to college, but I’m going to miss Friday night football and volleyball on Tuesday. The normal high school experience I will miss.”