Merkel sweeps Trent for first volleyball win in 35 years

MERKEL — The gym at Merkel High School is no longer just a basketball court.

What used to just have free-throw lines and 3-point lines now has volleyball lines and holes for a net at half-court.

The program dissolved in 1987, but after widespread community support, the school sent a volleyball team onto the court in 2022.

For the first time in 35 years, Merkel hosted a volleyball match Tuesday.

In their first competition in almost four decades — way before any of their players were alive — the Lady Badgers defeated Trent in three sets (25-10, 25-12, 25-7).

“I definitely was really nervous the first practice because I didn’t think we’d ever be this ready for our first game,” junior Havyn Ruiz said. “Tonight definitely changed all of that.”

Building a program

For the reboot, Merkel Athletic Director Will Kates looked to Mitzi Bell to lead the program. Bell was previously head coach at Sweetwater after 22 years of coaching elsewhere in West Texas.

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