Now that she's had a little time to reflect, Weatherford College volleyball coach Kailee May is still pinching herself at the program's success in its inaugural season.
"I have been overwhelmed," she said. "So many thoughts and feelings have surfaced since we finished that I didn't have time to take in during the season."
What all happened? Well, they won the Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference championship with a 12-2 conference record. They reached the NJCAA Region V North Tournament finals, wrapping up the season with a 21-8 overall record.
"In taking this job, I was very ambitious and determined to be competitive," May said. "My goal out of the gate was to finish in the top three in the conference and to recruit athletes I thought could help reach that goal.
"I'm proud of myself and of my team for the work they put in, but at the same time, I've honestly been more focused on the future. How do I take this team to the next level? How do I win the tournament next year? Where did I fall short? What do we need to do differently to be better next year?"
For starters, having a roster that includes 16 freshmen and only one sophomore is a great cause for optimism going forward. That lone sophomore, Isabela Moore,plans to play at a higher level next season, and May believes she will also make an impact there as well.
"You will definitely see her playing at the next level," May said.
May said she sensed from day one that there was something special about this team.
"As soon as I saw the competitive drive from the entire team on the first day of practice, I knew we had the edge we needed to win," she said. "Early on, maybe the third weekend of preseason, beating Trinity Valley, who is now ranked in the top 10, and Tyler, who was then ranked in the top 20, those were big wins. Those were wins where I knew we could compete with anyone in the country."
But just in case anyone thinks there weren't any growing pains for the program, May assures there were, she said with a chuckle.
"A lot goes on behind the scenes that outsiders will never know or understand," she said. "We definitely had a few moments of frustration and setbacks, but I think the team came out of them understanding what we needed to do better and ultimately playing better volleyball."
May said she anticipates the bulk of the freshmen to return next season,benefiting from their success this season - and coming back wanting even more.
"I honestly think the thirst for more will be what ultimately helps the current freshmen guide next year's freshmen. I know we had a successful season, but ending with a loss in the tournament and losing some other close matches throughout the season to really good teams, will help the sophomores set the standard for the '23 class," she said. "I think they know we are capable of even more."
Recapping the season
Overall record: 21-8
Conference record: 12-2, champions of NTJCAC
Home record: 9-2
Road record: 7-4
Neutral record: 5-2
Postseason: Advanced to finals of NJCAA Region V North Tournament
Longest win streak: 9 matches
Longest loss streak: 3 matches
Matches swept 3-0: 15
Matches lost 0-3: 6
Record in 3-2 matches: 2-1
Kailee May: NTJCAC Coach of the Year
Abby Folsom: freshman, NTJCAC Setter of the Year, first-team All-NTJCAC
Meagan Ledbetter: freshman, Newcomer of the Year, first-team All-NTJCAC
Selanny Puente: freshman, first-team All-NTJCAC
Isabela Moore: sophomore, second-team All-NTJCAC
Brooke McHale: freshman, second-team All-NTJCAC
Kills: Ledbetter, 245; Moore, 245; Puente, 224; McHale, 205
Hitting percentage: Puente, .341 (13th in nation); Dru Witherspoon, freshman, .250; Folsom, .245
Assists: Folsom, 961 (average of 10.36 per set was seventh in nation); Taylor Borden, freshman, 84
Aces: Puente, 35; Ledbetter, 34; McHale, 29; Lexie Pruitt, freshman, 26; Moore, 24
Digs: Borden, 379; Moore, 285; Ledbetter, 273; Folsom, 214
Blocks: Puente, 56; Folsom, 33; Witherspoon, 29; Ledbetter, 23