Walker Valley has been looking for consistency on the volleyball court all season, playing up one night and down another. The Lady Mustangs put it all together in an impressive manner Tuesday in a …
Walker Valley has been looking for consistency on the volleyball court all season, playing up one night and down another. The Lady Mustangs put it all together in an impressive manner Tuesday in a huge match against District 5-3 leader Cleveland.
The Lady Mustangs (13-10, 4-1 District 5-3A) roared back after an opening set loss to control tempo and dynamics with consecutive wins to hand the Lady Raiders (8-5, 5-1) their first district loss with a 3-1 win.
“Finally,” said a smiling Lady Mustangs coach Aubrey Reagan of the consistency she had been looking for from her squad. “Especially after the first game you could just kind of tell it was coming. We practiced well yesterday. I was telling them to seize the moment. We have battled all season long with inconsistency and tonight was our night to be consistent, and there was no better night than tonight. We wanted to win really badly.”
After winning the first set 25-15, Walker Valley came up short in set two by a score of 25-18. The Lady Mustangs rallied back from a 19-14 deficit in the third and broke a 23-23 tie for a 25-23 victory, then controlled the final set to win by a relatively easy 25-20 margin.
“It’s a big deal for all of us. This is our senior year and they are always our rival. To beat them our senior year means a lot to us,” said Lady Mustangs senior Anna Grace Jackson, who finished the win with 36 digs.
Laney Harris came up with an even dozen digs for the winners. Sophie Fugate stayed busy with 43 assists.
The Lady Mustangs began their push in set one, coming back late to score seven of the final nine points capped off with an ace by Mikayla Beasley for the win.
“They are our biggest rival,” said an excited Beasley. “We’ve been working so hard on practice. We just pushed as much as we could tonight.”
Adjustments and different combinations did little to help the Lady Raiders who struggle at times with depth issues. The Lady Mustangs took advantage of the Cleveland throes to walk off with the win.
“We had no chemistry from the get-go,” said a disappointed Lady Raiders coach Patricia Flowers. “As a coaching staff we are not surprised this happened.
“Walker Valley is good. Aubrey is a good coach. She has worked hard and her team has worked hard in club ball. Sometimes players are late bloomers. I don’t want to say we took them for granted. I don’t think we took them for granted. I think it gets in our heads and we just had no chemistry.”
The Lady Raiders, on the strength of back-to-back-to-back aces from Elliot Brock pushed to a 19-10 lead. Kills by Macy Nipper and a block by Melody McCree cut it to 19-15. Cleveland held on to the slim edge using a Lily Oliver block and Anna Renshaw kill to get the win.
Renshaw and Oliver ended the night with 12 kills each to lead the Lady Raiders. Joy Douglass finished with 10. Douglass also paced Cleveland with 20 digs while Lydia Martin booked 18 and Renshaw came up with 17, and Bri Daniel recorded 15. Elliot Brock recorded 10 for the Lady Raiders.
Cleveland held momentum early in set three building a 14-8 lead. The Lady Mustangs slowly chipped away at the lead closing the gap to 19-16 after kills by McCree and Beasley. Three straight Walker Valley kills tied the set at 22-22. Cleveland managed only a single point while giving away four as the Lady Mustangs locked up the two-point win.
“Like everyone has said, they are our biggest rival and to be seniors it feels great to beat them” said an elated Kaylee Hughes. “I feel like we all worked together. It wasn’t just one person. It was all of us.”
Macy Nipper added, “It’s been our goal to get out of district and go far. We all get along so well and we are such close friends. Beating Cleveland is a big deal in our district. Just knowing we have the capability to beat them means a lot to us.”
The final set belonged to the Lady Mustangs.
Walker Valley built a 13-6 lead after breaking a 6-6 tie and building a 16-10 pad. Cleveland fought back to close the gap to to three at 18-15, but could not match the determination of the Lady Mustangs, who rolled to a 23-18 lead before Carissa Frost put the finishing touches on the match with two final kills.
“We haven’t given Walker Valley our best game. If we played people the way we played against Baylor, there is no question we would leave the court as the winners,” said Flowers.
“We don’t have a lot of depth on the varsity bench yet. The district tournament is what matters. Every year this has happened we have learned from it. Maybe we’ll learn from it this year, too.”
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