BANGS — Howard Payne graduate and former Lady Jacket volleyball standout Callie Molloy has taken the reins of the Bangs Lady Dragons volleyball program for the 2018 season.

Molloy, who most recently served as a graduate assistant coach at Hardin-Simmons, is beginning her first season as a head coach. She played two years of volleyball and tennis at Howard Payne after transferring from Frank Phillips College in Borger, where she also played both sports for two years.

Molloy inherits a Bangs volleyball program that is coming off a 1-9 district campaign a year ago, but looks to return the postseason picture in 2018. The Lady Dragons’ first games of the season take place Friday and Saturday at the Albany tournament.

Though the Lady Dragons have just a couple of practices and scrimmages under their belts since workouts began on Wednesday, Molloy has been impressed by what she’s seen from the team so far.

“The strength of this group is they definitely came in as a family, so they work well on the court together,” Molloy said. “Effort, heart and hard work is going to be our overall strength. They’re extremely hard workers, they put their hearts into anything and everything they do.

“We have a pretty strong back row this year and our defense is falling in right behind. We have a young team, but they are soaking things up like a sponge and getting better every single day.”

Among the key returnees for the Lady Dragons, according to Molloy, are Kenzie Baker and Kyra Smith.

“Kenzie is going to be a very strong, hard hitter,” Molloy said. “Kyra is also going to be one of our strong middle hitters. We do have some young girls coming up as defensive specialists, and I’m sure they will step in and step up as they go.”

Following the Albany tournament, Bangs’ pre-district schedule includes matches at Breckenridge (Aug. 14), the Glen Rose tournament (Aug. 16-18), Sweetwater (Aug. 21), the Dublin tournament (Aug. 23-25), Bronte (Sept. 1), and Jim Ned (Sept. 18). The Lady Dragons’ open their home schedule against Miles (Aug. 28) and also host Albany (Sept. 4), Lampasas (Sept. 11) and Wall (Sept. 15).

“Honestly, I’m just looking to get better every single day,” Molloy said in regard to her pre-district goals. “They keep giving me that hard work and effort and right now that’s my goal that I’ve set for them, we get better every single day. So by district time, no telling what we’re going to bring.”

The revamped District 6-3A schedule for Bangs begins Sept. 22 with a home date against Dublin. The remainder of the slate include a trip to Hamilton (Sept. 25), Early (Sept. 29) and Eastland (Oct. 2) at home and a visit to Comanche (Oct. 6). The second half of district begins at Dublin (Oct. 9) followed a home game with Hamilton (Oct. 13) road dates at Early (Oct. 16) and Eastland (Oct. 20) with the home and regular season finale against Comanche (Oct. 23).

“From what I’ve seen right now I hate to say it but we’re coming in as underdogs,” Molloy said. “I know we’ve got some expectations to set and some expectations to exceed.

“Long term goals, I’m expecting to get past the second round, I know that’s a bold statement, but I set expectations for these girls and they just shake their head and say, ‘yes coach.’ It’s not a question, there’s no a doubt, our theme this year is break the ropes so we’re looking to break out of the box, break expectations that we’ve set for ourselves.”