Despite a carousel of coaches over the last few seasons, the winning tradition of Cedar Park volleyball hasn’t wavered.
Lori McLaughlin was hired as the new Cedar Park volleyball coach earlier this year, becoming the third coach of the Lady Timberwolves in four seasons. But that hasn’t stopped them from making a run to the state title match and two more playoff appearances in that span.
“I didn’t have to come in here and start back from scratch,” McLaughlin said. “These girls have already had a winning tradition and were hungry for a state title. The mentality is we’re going to win. That’s just the way they carry themselves.”
Overall, this is her 18th year as a head coach for the Oklahoma City native. She started her career at Lake Creek in Katy ISD before moving to Dawson for five years, making both schools perennial playoff contenders.
McLaughlin most recently finished her sixth season at Fort Bend Ridge Point, where she helped the Lady Panthers advance to the Class 6A state final for the first time in school history.
“I’m very family-oriented and I will give these girls tough love but I have very high expectations,” McLaughlin said. “I’m a grinder. I want to outwork anybody and everybody and if I want to instill that in my team, I feel like I need to emulate that too."
Kori Cooper took the Lady Timberwolves to the state title match in 2016 before leaving in the offseason. Rachel Altman was in the charge for the last two seasons as Cedar Park made the playoffs both years.
McLaughlin has been in Cedar Park since January, moving before the last school year even ended to get a head start on getting the team ready to go.
She said she was looking forward to moving to the area in retirement, so to get the opportunity a little earlier was an added bonus.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better transition,” McLaughlin said. “Everybody has made me feel really welcome but I feel like it was easy to do because I blended right in.”
This year’s Cedar Park squad features just two seniors — Olivia Meyer and Jaelyn Grimm —and both have been battling injuries early in the season.
As of Tuesday, the Lady Timberwolves are 5-6 through the first part of the regular season and boast wins over Arlington Heights, Lorena, Belton, Antonian Prep and Stony Point.
Junior Abbi Lemmond leads the team with 70 digs and 59 kills and junior Avery Cole isn’t far behind with 56 kills and 16 blocks on the young season. Freshman Dylan Guilkey has a team-high 154 assists.
The district season begins when Glenn comes to CPHS on Sept. 13.
“I’m super excited,” McLaughlin said. “The key to anybody in your tournament season is to stay healthy. We’re still working on building relationships. But these girls are easy to love and I just want that to be instilled throughout our entire program.”