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Mansfield player building for final stretch, next season

Not every team will make this year’s volleyball playoffs, but what they do with this year’s experience can have a great influence on whether they’re prepared to make it to the postseason next year.

Players like Mansfield junior Lindsay Harris should be well-suited to help the Lady Tigers get back to the playoffs next year.

Mansfield hasn’t had the type of district season it imagined at the first of the year, but the struggles won’t be for naught with the dedication to improvement in plays such as Harris and others.

Being her first year on varsity, Harris now sees the game a little differently and has made the most of the ups and downs of the season.

“Being on varsity this year has changed how I play the game,” Harris said. “Being able to play at a higher level is an experience that will make us ten times better next year.”

The goals for Harris and the remainder of the Lady Tigers certainly have shifted, and they’re now focused on winning out the rest of the way and starting next year with the same mindset.

Along with a handful of other talented underclassmen, Harris will return to a group that should definitely be ready to take the next step in 2017.

“She has really developed as an outside hitter,” said Mansfield head coach Taylor Elrod. “With losing our senior hitting specialist next year, we will really be depending on her to be a leader and go-to hitter for the team,” she said of Harris. “We are so excited to have her and cannot wait to see her jump into a leadership role next season.”

Harris, at 5-11 and still growing, has the ability to mix up her shots and is becoming one of the team leaders.

She said she still wants to improve on her back row game and become a player able to play all around the floor.

Getting ready for this season – and soon, for next – Harris intends to draw upon sand and indoor volleyball playing time.

Over the summer months playing in sand, Harris said she improved her vertical jump by four inches.

She has parlayed that additional dimension to her game, along with other skills.

“It helped a lot and made me smarter on the court,” Harris said of the jump to varsity this year. “I used to hit the line repeatedly and now I’ve learned to mix it up. Varsity changed my game completely. I see what’s going on on the other side now.”

The additional intensity of the game has also been the catalyst for improvement after going 12-0 as a JV player last year.

Even though the results haven’t been what Mansfield would’ve liked, Harris said there are plenty of positives to build on.

“We’re happy with the way we’ve been playing,” Harris noted, saying the team has steadily improved.

“We’re adjusting to the new district, which has been difficult. We’ll come out with more wins next year than we ever thought.”

Mansfield will be younger next year but will have the added experience from players such as Harris and Molly Phillips.

“This has been one of the closest knit teams, and volleyball helps us get away from the stresses of school and a chance to get together,” Harris said.

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