Following one of the program’s best seasons in their recent history, the Duncan Lady Demons volleyball team started this week by taking their first steps toward the 2019 season.

Amanda Lard, who is going into her fifth year as head coach for the Lady Demons, took the 2018 squad to a record of 18-7 last year and was one victory away from the Class 5A State Tournament.

Official practices started this past Monday and Lard said the team has gone through voluntary workouts this summer and she has been impressed by the dedication of her team so far.

“We did work out a little bit earlier this summer, we did a lot of weights and conditioning and we had about 30 girls show up on their summer break,” Lard said. “I was really impressed from the get go. I thought I really like the direction they are going and I really like how they are showing up.”

During the middle of the summer workouts Lard had to go to a basketball camp in Tulsa, but the Lady Demons kept their workout schedule going even without their coach being present.

Lard said that she has liked what she has seen so far from the younger girls and is also excited about the fight that the players have.

“I didn’t really have any expectations on the younger girls. I didn’t really know what to expect,” Lard said. “I knew who we had coming back and I know what we had to replace last year so that is what I have been looking at. So far, what I’m looking at is who do we have, what are they doing in practice and where are they going to play. Right now it is tough because everybody seems to be stepping up in a different way.”

As for the returners to the squad, Lard will rely on the senior class who fell short last year in getting into the state tournament losing to Carl Albert in the Regional Championship game. This will be the second senior class she has worked with all four years since becoming head coach for the Lady Demons volleyball team and Lard knows they are eagerly awaiting to do better.

“They got a taste of it and they got to see that we were this close. We went up against a Carl Albert team that had us and got us that day,” Lard said. “They know what it takes. They know what we did was not quite enough because we didn’t make it to the state tournament. They know what it does take and this senior class is just stepping up right now and they are guiding the young ones and instructing them.”

Duncan Volleyball will have one more practice today for the week before taking off next week due to the coaches clinic and the also floor will be re-finished next week, but then they will return the following week.

Upon return, the Lady Demons will be thrown into preparing for their first scrimmage. Lard knows the season is here and said she is happy the girls have responded to committing to practicing their last few weeks of summer.

“The season is here. I told them that I hate that we have to cut into their summer, but we start scrimmage that week and with having so many people to replace we need that time,” Lard said. “We lost three really tall seniors that played quite a bit of front row for us so just combing back we are still looking for people to replace that height on the net. I will still be missing some girls when we do come back. We are looking at the week after next before I see all of them together for the first time. I keep telling these girls that they are setting the bar pretty high right now and it is their job to keep the bar set high.”

Ninth grade, JV and Varsity teams will begin the scrimmage at 10 a.m. August 2 at home against Community Christian School and Lard says the expectations are high for the Lady Demons.

“I have been telling them ‘don’t slack off and don’t let somebody just coast in right here because I want you fighting and everybody is going to have to earn spots,’” Lard said. “It is going to be a while before I see everybody together but people are making impressions right now and they are going to make my decision tough. Everybody is stepping up in different ways, but I’m ready for it and we will scrimmage the week right after coaches clinic and we will kind of see what we have at that point and go from there.”