Kayla Williams and the rest of her teammates are on a mission this year.
After last season ended in a disappointment with the Odessa College volleyball team, the Lady Wranglers have been impressive during the early stages of the season.
Odessa College currently finds itself ranked No. 4 in the NJCAA rankings at a nearly-perfect 16-1 overall, 1-0 in WJCAC, record this season.
Williams, who’s back for her sophomore season, is looking to make the most of her final season in Odessa before moving on.
“I think we’ve played pretty well as a team,” Williams said. “I think this preseason has really shaped us into a great team so far. Conference play will be harder. We’ve been staying humble and work hard, no matter to prepare us for conference.”
So far this season, Williams, who’s from Killeen, has managed 2.98 kills per set with a hitting percentage of .204 percent.
Overall this season, Williams has had 164 kills total and 421 total attacks and 25 service aces.
She’s noticed a few differences for her as a player between last year and this year, most notably being tougher, mentally.
“Definitely mental toughness and pushing through it,” Williams said. “We’re dealing with distractions and staying focused and keeping the team together and focused. We just need to buy in no matter what.”
Unsurprisingly, her role on the team this year is much bigger than last year as she’s one of the veteran players returning from the 2022 season.
“I think I have a bigger role this year mainly because I’m a sophomore and the sophomores are the leaders on the team,” Williams said. “I have more of a bigger role and more pressure but it comes with it.”
The Lady Wranglers began conference play Wednesday with a sweep over Western Texas College at OC Sports Center, winning by scores of 25-14, 25-12, 25-16.
The schedule gets tougher, however, as Odessa College faces a familiar rival in New Mexico Military Institute-which is currently 13-4, 1-0- at 2 p.m. Saturday at OC Sports Center.
“I think the biggest thing is we go in controlling our side and worrying about how we can do our best and train each day in the gym,” Williams said.
While the season has started off promising for the Lady Wranglers, Williams and her teammates are looking to avoid how it ended last season when the team fell to New Mexico Military Institute in five sets which cost them a trip to nationals.
“We’re hoping to learn resilience and put everything on the court and not give the other team anything,” Williams said. “We need to start strong throughout.”
With the way things have been going so far, Williams and her teammates have a reason to be optimistic.
“I’m very excited,” Williams said. “It’s gone very fast. Last year, I was a freshman but this year, it’s hitting hard because I’m a sophomore. Preseason is always fun but i[‘m always excited to start conference.” “Definitely mental toughness and pushing through it. We’re dealing with distractions and staying focused and keeping the team together and focused. We just need to buy in no matter what.”
And in case things go south, Williams said her teammates will remember why they love this game and why they came to Odessa College in the first place.
“I think we need to remember why coach recruited each and every one of us and why we love this sport,” Williams said. “We’re not just playing because we have to. We wanted to come here. We need to remember the bond that we have for each other and the love we have for this sport. We also need to remember our goal as well. That’s our force to drive us.”
Williams has earned plenty of praise from Odessa College head coach Dayana Acevedo-Rios.
“She can do everything from blocking to serving to passing,” Acevedo-Rios said. “It’s good to see how much she elevates. The other teams see her as a threat and try to attack and she always has a response for them. She takes that as a challenge and rises to it.”