BANGS - With several of the same faces back on the court from a year ago, an experienced Bangs Lady Dragons volleyball squad will open their first season under new head coach Meredith Meador at 7 p.m. tonight at Veribest.

Meador, a 2000 graduate of Bangs High School, doubles as the girls head powerlifting coach and also coached many of the Lady Dragons during their junior high volleyball days.

This is a great bunch of girls and Im very excited, Meador said. I worked with the juniors when they were eighth graders, so I especially have high expectations for them since I know what they can do.

Im a graduate here and Ive been coaching here the last two years, and the excitement I see right now, its been a while since weve had that. The girls are on fire and really excited and ready to go.

The Bangs varsity roster features four seniors and eight juniors - headlined by returnees such as Taylor Beck, LeCrecia Apple, Andrea Evers and Julia Fincher - and Meador is counting on their leadership as the Lady Dragons attempt to secure their fifth straight berth in the postseason.

This is the first time weve had four seniors in a long time, and thats our biggest strength, Meador said. Weve got some good leadership going from them, and weve also got some good depth.

Having participated in the three-team District 7-2A the last two seasons, the Lady Dragons were able to extend their string of playoff appearances despite being held out of the win column in league action both years.

That must change this season, however, as Bangs will be competing in the five-team District 8-2A, which also includes former league rivals Colorado City and Grape Creek, along with new additions Dublin and Eastland.

Grape Creek (17-10, 6-0) won District 7-2A last year, followed by Colorado City (8-18, 3-3) and Bangs (13-20, 0-6). Dublin and Eastland combined for a 1-16 district record and neither team made the postseason.

Were really going to have to work hard this year in a new five-team district, Meador said. Thats something new to us from the last two years, but I think having a bigger district is going to help the girls play harder all year long.

One major plus about the new district is there is no 7-2A the next two seasons. Therefore, the runner-up and third-place playoff qualifiers will join the District 8-2A champion with first-round byes and automatically advance to the area round.

Prior to the start of district play, which occurs Sept. 27 when Colorado City visits, the Lady Dragons will tackle a non-district schedule that consists of Veribest, Hamilton, Ranger, Mullin, De Leon, Bronte and Hico, along with tournaments at Albany and Dublin, as well as hosting their own the weekend of Sept. 11-13.

During that span of opening games, Meador would like to see the Lady Dragons expand upon the chemistry they have displayed in preseason practices.

My expectations are pretty high coming in and seeing the girls working out in two-a-days, Meador said. Were really working well together now and I want to see them continue to do that and have fun. If were having fun, well take care of business.

Bangs Lady Dragons

Varsity Volleyball Schedule

Aug. 12 at Veribest

Aug. 14-16 at Albany tournament

Aug. 19 Hamilton

Aug. 26 Ranger

Aug. 28-30 at Dublin tournament

Sept. 2 Mullin / De Leon

Sept. 11-13 Bangs tournament

Sept. 16 at Bronte

Sept. 19 at Hico

Sept. 27 Colorado City*

Sept. 30 at Grape Creek*

Oct. 4 at Eastland*

Oct. 7 Dublin*

Oct. 11 at Ranger

Oct. 14 Grape Creek*

Oct. 18 at Colorado City*

Oct. 21 at Dublin*

Oct. 28 Eastland*

* District 8-2A Matches