By Will Johnson
EAST TEXAS – For all but one of the area volleyball teams previewed before the start of the 2016-2017 school year, the season has ended in disappointment.
In The Messenger’s Fall Sports Preview, teams from the Class 4A level to Class 1A were looked at and unfortunately after the Bi-District round of the playoffs, the Cayuga Lady Wildcats and the Oakwood Lady Panthers are the only teams left standing.
At the Class 4A level, the Palestine LadyCats showed vast improvement from the 2015 season and ended the season with a record of 10-24. One of the season’s highlights was a win in the Consolation game at the Brownsboro Tournament (Silver Bracket).
After the LadyCats final match, Coach Kym Chapa remarked, “I am very proud of the growth that we have had through the season at all levels.”
Moving to the Class 3A level, the Crockett Lady Bulldogs had a rough year in District 21-3A. The district was made up of the Anderson-Shiro Lady Owls, the Coldspring-Oakhurst Lady Trojans, the Crockett Lady Bulldogs, the Hempstead Lady Bobcats, the New Waverly Lady Bulldogs, the Onalaska Lady and the Trinity Lady Tigers.
The four teams who qualified for the postseason from District 21-3A were: Anderson-Shiro; New Waverly; Trinity; and Hempstead. The Lady Owls and Lady Bulldogs won their Bi-District matches and advanced to the Area round, while the Lady Tigers and Lady Bobcats both fell in the first round.
After the latest UIL re-alignments, the defending Class 3A state champion Leon Lady Cougars were placed in District 18-3A. Unfortunately, three of the area teams – the Elkhart Lady Elks, the Frankston Maidens and the Westwood Lady Panthers were also assigned to District 18-3A. Both the Lady Elks and Lady Panthers managed to qualify for the postseason, but lost in the first round of the playoffs. Elkhart fell to the Maypearl Lady Panthers in three sets – 28-26, 25-19 and 26-24.
The loss ended the Lady Elks season with a record of 12-23. After the match, Coach Alicia Wooddell commented, “I am proud of my girls. They played hard and fought for every single point. It was just one of those days. We didn’t have it tonight.”
The Westwood Lady Panthers were also eliminated in the Bi-District round. The Lady Panthers fell to the Rio Vista Lady Eagles in three sets by a score of 25-18, 25-15 and 25-17.
The loss ended Westwood’s season with a record of 14-23. Following the match, Coach Janae Evans commented while the loss stings quite a bit, the future for Westwood volleyball is bright as the team will only lose one senior. “We normally lose about five players a year so it will be nice to see the young players coming back. We’ll work on our defense a lot in the offseason and running our offense more consistently. We have the hitters. We just need to be more consistent with them,” Coach Evans said.
While the Leon Lady Cougars continued their quest to repeat as state champs with a straight sets win over the Palmer Lady Bulldogs, the runners up from District 18-3A – the Teague Lady Lions – lost a five set heartbreaker to the Grandview Lady Zebras.
At the Class 2A level, teams from Houston County were faced with the same situation as those in Anderson County as the defending state champion Iola Lady Bulldogs were placed in District 22-2A along with the Grapeland Sandiettes, the Kennard Lady Tigers , the Latexo Lady Tigers and the Lovelady Lady Lions.
Grapeland, Latexo and Lovelady finished just outside of playoff spots as the district postseason spots went to Iola, Centerville, North Zulch and Normangee. Iola, Centerville and North Zulch won their Bi-District matches while Normangee fell in the first round.
Iola and Centerville won their area match ups to advance to the Regional Quarterfinals. The Centerville Lady Tigers will face the ninth ranked Evadale Lady Rebels while the Iola Lady Bulldogs – ranked number one all year – defeated the Hull Daisetta Lady Bobcats in the area round and await the winner of the Cayuga / Deweyville scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 5.
Speaking of Cayuga, the Lady Wildcats were crowned champions of District 21-2A and defeated the Normangee Lady Panthers in four sets – 25-19, 23-25, 27-25 and 25-19 – to advance to the Area round.
At the Class 1A level, the Kennard Lady Tigers competed in District 22-2A throughout the regular season and then moved into the Class 1A playoffs. They received a bye in the Bi-District round and then fell to the Chester Lady Yellow Jackets in the area round.
The Oakwood Lady Panthers competed in District 21-2A throughout the regular season and also moved into the Class 1A postseason tournament when the playoffs began. Oakwood also received a bye in the first round and then defeated the High Island Lady Cardinals in the Area round. Oakwood is scheduled to take on the Chester Lady Yellow Jackets in the Regional Quarterfinals Monday, Nov. 7 at 6:30 p.m. in Lovelady.
Will Johnson may be reached via e-mail at [email protected]