By Will Johnson
EAST TEXAS – It has come down to the final two weeks of district play for area volleyball teams. The first half of district play is in the books and many of the area teams are still alive, but just barely.
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 pass the midpoint of district play, we will see which teams want it more. The playoffs beckon and the competition for a postseason berth is about to ratchet up the intensity.
Starting at the Class 4A level, the Palestine LadyCats have remained competitive throughout the season but are currently 0-4 in district play. However, they still have a very legitimate shot at the playoffs. The LadyCats are in a five team district and four teams will qualify. Palestine still has two matches against the Athens Lady Hornets. The Lady Hornets have had a less than stellar year on the volleyball court and sit at 0-3 in district play. If Palestine can win both matches from Athens, the LadyCats will enter the postseason as the number four seed from District 18-4A.
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 have not even come close to losing a set in district play. The Lady Panthers have stand at 4-4 in the district, while the Lady Elks are two games behind. It appears as if Leon and Teague will take the top two seeds and Westwood will more than likely enter as the third seed from District 18-3A while it appears the Lady Elks will have to battle the Malakoff Lady Tigers for the fourth and final playoff spot.
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 9-0 in district play through Friday Tuesday, Oct. 7. North Zulch is 8-1, Normangee and Centerville are both 7-2.
The Houston County teams appear to be the odd teams out, unfortunately, as the playoffs get closer. Grapeland, Latexo and Lovelady all have an outside shot at grabbing a fourth seed out of the district, but they will need some help. Grapeland sits at 4-5 while Latexo and Lovelady are both sitting at 3-6. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.