By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
The state-ranked Waxahachie Lady Indians are poised for yet another big-time volleyball match Friday with a potential district championship on the line.
The opportunity to break the three-way tie between Waxahachie, No. 14 Mansfield Lake Ridge and No. 10 Mansfield comes after the TGCA 6A 24th-ranked Lady Indians swept a pair of matches against Mansfield Summit and South Grand Prairie. The victories improved Waxahachie to 32-11 on the season and 7-1 in District 7-6A.
And as the team begins to look toward the final six matches of the regular and district season, Senior libero Baylee Whitehead wants the Lady Indians to remain focused on one match, set and volley at a time.
“I think we need to focus on every game that we play before we play them because every game is just as important,” said Whitehead following Tuesday’s three-set sweep of South Grand Prairie. “Even though the other teams might not be as good, they are still going to give us good competition and it is important to win. We just have to focus on every game because they are all important.”
The Lady Indians certainly carried Whitehead’s mindset into their latest two victories.
The Lady Indians first took care of business Friday at home against Mansfield Summit in three relatively easy sets, 25-7, 25-14, 25-13.
Madison Babers led the team with 10 kills on 19 swings for an impressive .421-hitting percentage on a night when the Lady Indians recorded 36 kills to just 16 errors on 94 attempts (.213-hitting %) as a team.
Emma Smithey (6), Lacy Mott (6) and Jh’kyah Head (5) also recorded multiple kills for the Lady Indians. Head also posted a team-best three total blocks.
Waxahachie also found success from the service line, as Avery Long and Ragan Ward both fired home three aces, each. Whitehead and Taylor Cavazos each recorded two aces, while the team converted on 72 of their 75 serves (95.8%).
Ward led the team with 20 assists and Kate Morgan notched a team-high 10 digs.
A strong second set by South Grand Prairie made things a little interesting for the Lady Indians at home on Tuesday night.
The Lady Indians won sets one and three with relative ease, 25-9 and 25-13, but had to come from behind to fend off the visiting Lady Warriors in set No. 2, 32-30, to complete the sweep.
“I thought we played well,” said Waxahachie head volleyball coach Sandy Faussett-Stoops, noting the close second set “defines volleyball” and the momentum swings often associated. “It just shows how important it is to take care of business because when you get a team like South Grand Prairie who has the talent and they get fired up, there is no telling what is going to come at you. It was good for us to be able to control that in the second set. And it was big for us in that third set to be able to pull the second set out.”
Mott (14) and Babers (8) led the Lady Indians in kills courtesy of a game-high 33 assists from Ward. Whitehead also added five assists to team-high 15 digs. Ward (12) and Morgan (10) also recorded double-digit digs against the very athletic SGP front row.
Smithey, Morgan and Head each recorded five kills, respectively.
Though Babers’ three total blocks do not come as a surprise, the three blocks recorded by Ward do, as the 5-foot-7 senior setter entered the match with just 48 total blocks for her three-year varsity career.
Despite the two victories, the Lady Indians again slid a bit down the TGCA 6A poll, falling from 18th to 24th.
Mansfield checked in at No. 10 in this week’s 6A rankings, while Lake Ridge sits at No. 14. Both will be on the court against the Lady Indians over the next three matches.
Whitehead said that, though the state ranking is nice, it’s still not a focus of the Lady Indians. She also noted that year two of 6A competition hasn’t felt any different than year one.
“It isn’t necessarily different. It’s good competition and that is what I like but I don’t know that feels any different,” Whitehead said. “[…] (The ranking) was definitely a goal but we want to be as good or better than last year.”
The Lady Indians now turn their focus toward Mansfield Lake Ridge for a 5:30 p.m. first serve Friday in Mansfield.
The meeting will be the fourth this season between the two programs. The Lady Eagles won each of the first two matches in tournament action, while the Lady Indians defeated Lake Ridge in four sets at home in 7-6A action on Sept. 17.
Faussett-Stoops said the Lady Indians need not take past successes or failures onto the court with them come Friday though.
“We always have to respect our opponent and bring your best effort because that is what it takes to be a champion,” the head coach said. “You can’t ever assume anything. We just have to go out there and bring our best effort and not let a team out-hustle us and see what happens.”
All photos by Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports
Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports contributed to this report.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith