ZEPHYR — The Zephyr Lady Bulldogs are known for their traditionally successful basketball, cross country and track and field programs. This fall, however, the girls at Zephyr High School are tackling a new sport — volleyball.

Preparations for the Lady Bulldogs’ first season of high school volleyball began Tuesday with the start of two-a-days. Elizabeth Crouch is serving as the head coach of the startup program, where the participation level has been extremely high.

“We’ve had a great turnout,” Crouch said. “We have 15 varsity girls so that’s pretty exciting since we’re such a small school. To have 15 girls come in and say they want to try something new, I feel like that’s pretty awesome. We also have a junior high team with about 13 or so girls.”

Starting a program from scratch is never an easy chore, but Crouch stated that Zephyr is blessed with several multi-talented athletes.

“It’s been a lot of work, but thankfully we have a lot of good natural athletes here,” Crouch said. “They’ve actually picked up on it quite well. I’ve been really impressed and we’re hopeful for a good season.”

Seniors Meadow Reynolds and Morgan Warren have participated in every girls sports Zephyr has to offer. When volleyball became a reality, the duo jumped at the chance to join the team.

“This is a good opportunity for people who may not like basketball or cross country or track, but do like volleyball,” Reynolds said. “It can get more girls who aren’t doing anything right now involved in something.”

Warren added, “It’s a new sports and we pretty much play all the sports Zephyr has. I’m pretty excited.”

There are challenges that come with being a first-year program, however, such as familiarizing themselves with the game.

“Nobody has ever played volleyball here, we’re starting off brand new, so starting from the bottom is the biggest challenge we’re going to face,” Crouch said. “We did a little work last year on how you bump the ball, how you set the ball, and serving, but nothing too crazy. We worked on it during athletics and had a couple of after school practices once a week during volleyball season last year, but not a whole lot. We’re still learning but I think the girls love it. Every day they’re learning something new.”

The senior duo echoed their head coach’s sentiments.

“We’ve been playing basketball since we were little kids and we’ve never played volleyball before,” Warren said. “It’s harder learning a new sport.”

“The physical aspect is a lot different from basketball or track. We’re not used to getting down and dirty like you do in volleyball,” Reynolds said in reference to the dives for digs the Lady Bulldogs were working on during Thursday’s practice.

Zephyr’s first match is slated for Aug. 22 at Lingleville, with the home debut at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29 against De Leon. Other opponents on the Lady Bulldogs’ schedule include Gustine, Mullin, Gorman, Hamilton, Hico and Evant.

Consistent improvement is the most crucial objective for any first-year athletic program, but the Lady Bulldogs will be setting more team-oriented goals the closer they get to the season opener.

“We’re just trying to build up the positivity because there is a little fear playing against schools that have been doing this for so much longer,” Crouch said. “If we could finish somewhere around third or fourth in district, that would be pretty good for a team just coming in.”

Championships may or may not come for the Lady Bulldogs this season, but for the seniors who are competing on the first Zephyr volleyball squad, they’ll still have plenty of memories to carry with them.

“We’re pretty proud that we helped start this,” Warren said. “We’re the guinea pigs of it all. But generations forward will look back at us starting from nothing and think, ‘Wow, look what (the volleyball program) has become over the years.’”