By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
It has been quite the week for the Waxahachie Lady Indians volleyball team.
The reigning District 7-6A champions began district play this past Tuesday with a four-set win against then-No. 3 Mansfield Lake Ridge.
Senior outside hitter Lacy Mott and junior Kate Morgan recorded 13 and 12 kills, respectively, during the victory. Emma Smithey and Madison Babers each added nine kills, while setter Ragan Ward had six and Jh’kyah Head tallied three.
Ward added a match-high 44 assists and 13 digs, which tied her with Mott and was well back of libero Baylee Whitehead’s 28.
University of Texas-commit Mya Williams led all attackers with 22 kills on 61 attempts (.213-hitting %) for Lake Ridge.
After the district-opening win, Mott emphasized to KBEC Sports that the (28-11, 3-1) Lady Indians needed to continue to focus on things they could control moving forward.
“We need to focus on not really letting the name of a team affect how we play,” said the 5-foot-6 Mott, who recorded her 1,000th career kill Sept. 10 on the road against Corsicana. “Some teams have a reputation that isn’t as high, but we still need to go out and play with the same intensity.”
The Lady Indians heeded Mott’s advice and followed with a sweep of DeSoto on Friday. They then found themselves ranked in the Texas Girls Coaches Association 6A poll (No. 11) for the first time this season on Tuesday.
The program is no stranger to a 6A state ranking, as the Lady Indians sat inside the top-five for most of the 2018 season and even climbed inside the top-10 in the USAToday Super25 national poll.
The dream start to the 7-6A slate then ended rather abruptly Tuesday with a five-set road loss to No. 18 Mansfield.
The Lady Indians won the first and third sets in the 25-19, 16-25, 25-19, 20-25, 15-17 loss.
Morgan and Mott each recorded 19 kills, while Babers had 11 and Smithey had 10 on a new-season-best 55 assists from Ward.
Ward previously set her season-high number of assists (44) against Lake Ridge on Tuesday, Sept. 17. She has recorded 30 or more assists in 12 matches this season and now boasts 1,011 assists in 102 sets (9.9 assists per set) on the year.
“We just have to keep our heads up,” said Morgan, who set a new career-high with her 19 kills Tuesday after posting a then-career-best 12 kills against Lake Ridge. “Tough losses are hard but we will learn from it and we know what to do in practice so we will come out even stronger than we did before.”
The junior outside hitter added, “[…] The chemistry on the court with this team is better than any other team that I have played for in club or outside sports. Our coaches are so positive — different than others — but they teach me a lot.”
Following the match, Waxahachie head volleyball coach Sandy Faussett-Stoops told KBEC Sports that she thought the Lady Indians “played great” and noted that the team will need to play with a heightened focus on the little things moving forward.
“Mansfield is just such a strong and well-rounded team that we knew we would have to bring out best effort, especially playing them at home,” Faussett-Stoops said. “I was really pleased with how we kept our composure, especially when we were down five points in that fifth set. We couldn’t ask for more heart or determination coming in.”
She added, “Everything matters. The little things matter. When you play teams at this level, if you miss a blocking assignment or if you don’t hit a ball correctly or if you forget to block, all of those things add up. It’s those little things like coverage and communication, you just can’t have those kinds of errors. We will work to clean it up a little but I couldn’t be more pleased.”
The Lady Indians return to action Friday on the road against Cedar Hill at 5 p.m. They will then host Grand Prairie at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Mike Turner Gymnasium in Waxahachie.
“I think our goal all along has been to prove that we can play with anybody,” Faussett-Stoops said. “Any team can be beaten on any given day, even us. We have to give our best effort and play one play at a time and accept the outcome and don’t focus on the score — just play.”
All photos by Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports
Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports contributed to this report.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith