By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
A slew of underclassmen and stellar technical play has helped the Waxahachie Lady Indians storm into the 2021 volleyball season.
After falling in the first match of the three-day Mansfield ISD tournament, Waxahachie rallied to run off eight consecutive victories to claim the Silver Bracket title over the weekend. The Lady Indians capped their run with a three-set win over Midlothian.
Senior outside and middle blocker Jh’kyah Head was named to the all-tournament team for her efforts on the court, above the net and as a sideline leader.
And before the recognition is lost on anyone, the all-tournament nod is the first for any Lady Indian (and one of the first for any Texas high school volleyball player) since the 2019 season. Due to COVID-19 protocols, programs across the state had to nix their tournament schedules last season.
Head is a third-year varsity letter winner and second-year team captain.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Lady Indians are led by junior outside hitter Amber Morgan (53 kills) and Head (50) on the front line.
Junior outside hitters Georgi Horn (32 kills) and Mia Sanchez (30) have also played well above the net during the first week.
The four have benefitted from an offense run by setters Maddie Fuller (90 assists) and Taylor Cavazos (80).
Rylee Robinson (76 serves received, 2 errors) and Abby Fuller (44 serves received, 0 errors) have solidified themselves as cornerstones along the back row. The two have also tallied a team-best 64 and 58 digs, respectively. Maddie Fuller (41) and Brooklyn Baskin (36) have also contributed to the early offensive success with on-target passes.
Not to be overlooked is how stellar Waxahachie has performed behind the service line. All nine Lady Indians to record 12 or more service attempts have landed their serves inbound at a clip of 90.2% or better.
Cavazos (96.2%, 72 attempts) and Fuller (98.3%, 60 attempts) lead the team in attempts and aces with 12 and 8, respectively. Baskin (96.4%, 55 attempts) and Robinson (94.9%, 59) have also shown out early for the Tribe behind the service stripe.
Note: Individual statistics do not include the championship match against Midlothian on Saturday afternoon.
While speaking of numbers, head coach Sandy Faussett-Stoops will look to lead the Lady Indians to a 20th consecutive playoff appearance in her 21st season in Waxahachie. According to Texas Volleyball Insiders, Faussett-Stoops entered this season as the third-winningest active coach in Texas with 852 victories. She was 11th all-time, though now sits at 861 career wins (11th all-time).
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Lady Indians opened the season this past Tuesday with a 3-1 victory in a non-district match against Burleson Centennial. They then turned their focus to the recently completed three-day tournament in Mansfield.
Waxahachie was swept in the opening match by Denton Braswell, which is now led by former Midlothian Heritage head coach Timmi Blackshear. The Lady Indians bounced back nicely to finish the Thursday opening round with wins against Midland Lee (2-1) and Crawford (2-0).
The straight-set win against the Lady Pirates was the first of four consecutive sweeps that landed the Lady Indians in the Silver Bracket semifinal round Saturday afternoon.
Waxahachie picked up victories against Euless Trinity, North Crowley and LD Bell on Friday. The Tribe then opened Saturday with a sweep of El Paso Eastwood (25-13, 25-9) and followed by defeating District 11-6A rival Mansfield Lake Ridge in three sets (22-25, 25-10, 25-14).
The perfect start to the final day in Mansfield set the Lady Indians in a showdown against Midlothian in the Silver Bracket championship match. Waxahachie took set one 25-20, fell in the second set 19-25 and then finished their championship run with a 25-15 victory in the third and decisive set.
The Lady Indians are now 9-1 on the season and 8-1 in tournament action. Waxahachie returns to non-district action at 6 p.m. Tuesday at home against (4-4) Granbury.
The team will then shift back into tournament play in the annual Northwest ISD Classic Thursday-Saturday. The season’s next home match is slated for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24, against former district opponent Mansfield Summit.
Waxahachie finished the 2020 season with a 17-6 record and third in District 11-6A.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith