By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – It’s a new day in the world of East Texas volleyball. The majority of teams have entered the second half of the district season and the playoff races are heating up. The teams have been honing their skills since the end of August against a variety of teams in both tournament play and individual match play. Now, as we hit the midpoint of district play, the competition is about to ratchet up as postseason play beckons.

Starting at the Class 4A level, the Palestine LadyCats have remained competitive throughout the season but are currently 0-3 with one match remaining against the Mexia Black Ladycats before they start the back half of the volleyball year. While their record may not indicate it, they still have a very good shot at the postseason.

At the Class 3A level, the top ranked Leon Lady Cougars have left no doubt during the first half of the district season that they are the best team in Class 3A. The Lady Cougars undefeated in district and appear ready to head into the postseason district play.

Unfortunately for area volleyball fans, two of the teams looking up at Leon are Westwood and Elkhart and the Lady Cougars did not even come close to losing a set. The Lady Panthers have started off district play with a record of 3-3, while the Lady Elks sit at 2-3 (the results against the Malakoff Lady Tigers were unavailable.) Both teams are legitimate threats for the postseason and both could easily make the playoffs, if they stay healthy and play up to expectations.

In District 21-3A, the Anderson-Shiro Owls and New Waverly Bulldogs appear to have the top two spots locked down. The Crockett Lady Bulldogs have found themselves in a deep hole but appear to coming together as a team at the right time. Trinity is on the outside looking in so the battle for the third and fourth spots will come down to a dogfight between Crockett, Onalaska, Coldspring and Hempstead.

At the 2A level, much like their neighbors to the north, a reigning state champion (Iola) resides in District 22-2A along with four Houston County teams: Grapeland, Kennard, Latexo and Lovelady. Iola is 7-0 in district play through Tuesday, Oct. 4. North Zulch is 6-1, Normangee and Centerville are both 5-2.

The Houston County teams appear to be the odd teams out, unfortunately, as the playoffs get closer. Grapeland and Lovelady both have a decent shot at grabbing a fourth seed out of the district, but they will need some help. Grapeland sits at 3-4 while Lovelady is 2-5. Latexo’s hopes are fading but they have shown improved play recently and have a huge match against Lovelady on Oct. 4, if they hope to stay alive for the playoffs. Kennard is having a rough year but they have also shown improvement in recent weeks.

The playoffs are set to begin on Monday, Oct. 31.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.