Heather Philips believes she stepped into a good situation as the Douglas County volleyball coach.
She was named coach during the spring and inherits a team that finished as Region 5-AAAAAA runner-up in 2017.
With several returning players, the Tigers could again challenge for the region title and a state playoff spot.
“Luckily I came into a situation where the girls already were winning and have some good knowledge of the game,” said Philips, who also serves as the boy’s soccer coach. “The team has good chemistry and support and like each other. There really want each other to be better.”
Last year, the Tigers surprised many by playing their way into the region championship game.
Douglas County swept South Paulding and Alexander before losing to Northgate in the region championship finals.
The Tigers lost to Pope in the first round of the state playoffs to finish 17-27-1 under former coach Lee Spoor.
“Last season we worked very hard,” junior Miranda Marr said. “We have to stick together as a team. We want to go back to where we were and go even further. We have a lot of talent.”
Also returning from last season is all-county and all-region player Taliyah Sumter, who is now a junior. Senior setter Carrington Triplett is also back.
As one of the seniors on the team, Triplett assumes a leadership role.
“We have to develop as a team this season,” Triplett said. “We have to build character. I think with winning, we will develop confidence.”
The Tigers open the season on Tuesday against Temple. Douglas County open its region schedule on Sept. 4 against Mays and Northgate.
The county tournament will be on Sept. 30 at defending county championship Chapel Hill.
This will be Philips first time coaching volleyball since being an assistant at Central Gwinnett five years ago. She will be assisted by Deanna Richards.
“I was fortunate when I first coached volleyball that I worked for a coach that played in college,” Philips said. “She was very knowledgable about the game. We are focusing on positioning and footwork. I think we have a chance to be successful.”
The players agreed.
“It is a lot different under coach Philips,” Carrington said. “It is a lot to get use to. She believes strongly in passing and running.”