It has been 24 years since the last time Waxahachie’s volleyball team was at the state tournament in San Marcos.

In order to reach that goal the Lady Indians will be relying a big group of seniors that are returning for the second and some, third year at the varsity level.

It is enough experience to have a coach like Sandy Faussett excited about the possibilities of what may come.

“I have very high expectations for this group, as do (the players),” Faussett said. “We want to get a head start and come back in shape from the summer because we know what we’re capable of with the number of returners we have.”

Waxahachie returns seven players who spent the entire season on varsity last season and saw a lot of playing time.

With so many back from last year’s regional quarterfinal team, Faussett is not worried about leadership. Senior Neven Simpson and junior Jennifer Fielder were elected team captains, but the list of leaders goes far beyond just two players.

“Obviously Neven and Jennifer are going to have a leadership role,” Faussett said, “but we have so many girls with so much experience that leadership will not be a problem. All of these girls set good examples by how they do things — it’s really a shared responsibility.”

For the few players that do not have any varsity experience, there is not a lot of time to learn the Lady Indians complex offense. With games against state finalist Midway on Monday and traditional power Highland Park on Thursday, the Lady Indians will be tested early.

“In non-district we want to perfect our quick offense and raise our level of play,” Faussett said. “We want to play tough competition so that once we get deep into the playoffs we aren’t blind-sided by another team that is just as quick or big as we are.”

The games against Midway and Highland Park are also a result of the experience Waxahachie has coming back.

“The reason we scheduled those teams is because we want to be as good as we can be as early as we can be,” Faussett said. “I thought we would be familiar enough with our offense that we could compete with those teams early in the season.”

Last year served as a learning experience for a lot of this year’s team.

In last season’s first scrimmage, the team’s setter broke her finger and was out for the rest of the year. The team was forced to adjust and they did just that — finishing second in the district and with over 20 wins.

They also learned what it takes to win close games and how devestating a close loss can be.

After a pair of close wins against Midlothian, which finished third in the district, the Lady Indians narrowly dropped a five-game match at Red Oak.

“That loss to Red Oak, that’s stayed with them all year,” Faussett said. “This team is going to be able to handle pressure a lot better than last year. We’ll be much more confident given the same scenario again.”

After opening district against Corsicana this year, the Lady Indians have back-to-back games against Midlothian and Red Oak this year.

While the district schedule will be tough, Faussett said the team has been preparing for it since last November.

“We don’t prepare for individual games in a week,” she said. “After the season was over, we gave them a week off and started back. You don’t meet your goal by starting to work on it two weeks ahead of time. You train for a marathon for eight months, not a few days.”