GLEN ROSE — The 2017 Glen Rose volleyball season saw the Lady Tigers win a school-record 48 matches, including 37 straight, and advance to the state tournament for the first time in school history.

With six returning starters, the Lady Tigers (48-2) are looking to return to the state tournament this season, and although the state rankings have yet to be released, Glen Rose should debut in the top four after finishing third last season.

“It was a good year last year. It seems like we came together early in the season and all the cards fell right, and we had a great year,” said GR volleyball coach Sandy Langford. “We need to pick up where we left off at the end of the year and know that we cannot take a step back and that we have to push ahead.”

This senior class, led by Bryanna Lytle, Mallory Rogers, Libby Hinton, Logan Smith and Maddie Mooney, is 117-19 (.862) in three seasons and 32-3 (.914) in district contests. 

“They are an extra special class,” Langford said. “They haven’t had many losses in anything they’ve done. They come in with high expectations, and they have a great work ethic. They are so dedicated to volleyball. It’s what they do.”

Langford will be looking for that group of seniors to teach the tradition to the younger players, who will be stepping into roles left by graduating seniors Emma Bozarth, Annie Bryant, Laiken McAnear, Sasha Payne and Ally Andress. 

“With the younger girls, it will be getting into the swing of things with the fast-paced games,” Langford said. “We are going to try to run the offense faster and move the ball around a lot quicker. They have such a great group of seniors to show them and lead them on the court. There is going to be a lot of learning to do in the first half of the season.”

The Lady Tigers opened practice Wednesday, and their first scrimmages will be Friday at Glen Rose beginning at 9 a.m. Along with GR, Red Oak, Kennedale, Jacksboro, Brownwood, Venus and Tolar will be at the Friday scrimmages. 

On Saturday, GR will have scrimmages at Aledo before opening the season at Tiger Arena on Monday night at 6 p.m. with Peaster — a team that took the Lady Tigers to five sets last year. JV and freshmen will play at 5 p.m.

Following that, the team will head to Hawaii to play in the prestigious Ann Kang Invitational Aug. 9-11 in Honolulu.

“Our schedule is completely different than last year,” Langford said. “Last season, I felt like it was a season where we needed that and we needed those wins and that success. I think this year it’s different. We have taken a different direction with how we are starting the season. We have a tough schedule. It would be nice if we could do that again (win 37 matches in a row), but it’s OK if we don’t.”

In addition to the tougher preseason schedule, the Lady Tigers, who went undefeated the last two seasons in district play, will see some new faces in District 7-4A play. Gone are rival Midlothian Heritage, Life School, Alvarado and Venus, and in are Mineral Wells (7-19) and Brownwood (13-18). Stephenville (20-22) and Godley (6-19) are the only remnants left from last year’s district slate. 

The Lady Tigers have a short history with Mineral Wells and Brownwood. GR eliminated Mineral Wells in the first round of the playoffs two years ago, and GR eliminated Brownwood in the second round the last two seasons.

In addition to the Glen Rose Tournament, the Lady Tigers will play 11 times at home, while aside from two tournaments (Ann Kang, Arlington), the Lady Tigers will play six true road games and two neutral-site contests.