The Waxahachie Lady Indian volleyball team experienced a couple of firsts Tuesday night.
After 14 matches, it was their first time to be at home in 2013. It was also their first match as the first ranked team in the state in the latest Texas Girls Coaches Association state poll.
Those two elements are enough to get in a team’s head. While both may have been factors in the match, the Lady Indians still swept the Waco Midway Lady Panthers 25-10, 25-19, 25-16.
Despite the convincing win, coach Sandy Faussett wasn’t pleased with the way her team played overall after the first set.
“They are capable of so much more than that. I just told them that after the match,” Faussett said. “If they play like that in the tournament we have this weekend, there won’t be any rankings going on.”
Waxahachie toppled four teams ranked in the top-10 last week at a tournament in Trophy Club and the rest of the state took notice as the Lady Indians went from unranked to No. 1.
“I don’t think the ranking thing got in their head. I don’t really have an answer for how teams respond to that,” Faussett said. “After 26 years, I still don’t have an answer for that.”
The players didn’t really feel it got in their head either.
“We just didn’t play as well as we could have,” Waxahachie senior setter Mary Kate Clark said. “Once the match starts, you don’t think about that stuff anymore. You just have to play.”
The fact that it was a home match may have had more of an impact on the team than the ranking did.
“We do this a lot in our first home match. It’s their first time to play in front of their classmates and extended relatives,” Faussett said. “You never know what to expect. Some of them will stay focused, but others won’t. When we travel, there’s just a few parents there and they can stay very focused on the court the way we should.”
After falling behind 3-1 in the first set, Waxahachie rattled off a 14-6 run to take a 17-7 lead and never looked back. Sophomore middle blocker Audrey Willett and senior setter Shelbie Tucker played great defensively while Lyndsey Griffith’s new aggressive style of play helped Waxahachie put the first set away with relative ease.
“I felt like we took the court well, but after the first set things fell off,” Faussett said. “The intensity level and the talking, all the things that have to happen for us to be successful didn’t happen.”
Following that first set, the coach started tweaking her line up and getting everyone in the match. Even with the non-regulars playing most of the match, Faussett still expects more.
“This is a really capable group so when I make subs, I don’t expect the play to drop off,” Faussett said. “We shouldn’t miss a beat when they go in because they are great passers and great setters. I just don’t think there should be a difference. And not all of the issues I saw came when the starters weren’t on the court, I saw them from everybody.”
Sloppy play in set two allowed Midway to hang around and the Lady Panthers tied the match at 17 after four straight points before a time out by Faussett. Whatever she said worked as Waxahachie took four consecutive points of their own to take a 21-17 lead. Clark put the match away with back-to-back aces at the end of the set.
Clark did a little bit of everything in this match as she was setter, outside hitter and got some play on the back row. While her natural position is setter, she likes moving around.
“I think it helps me stay in the game more,” Clark said. “It’s something that coach told me she wanted to try and I was excited about the chance.”
Faussett noticed during tournament play that her team would burn through its substitutions quickly in some matches and she had to find a way to save some of them. With Clark’s ability to play everywhere, she doesn’t have to come of the court as often.
“We had to come up with a different line up because we were running out of subs just two and a half rotations,” Faussett said. “You get 18 per set, so if you sub five players at one time, that’s 10 of your subs for that match. So we had to try and find a way to work around that.”
In the final set, Midway got to within 14-13, but then Waxahachie rattled off five straight points and eight out of nine to put the match out of reach. Aeriel Horton aced the match’s final serve to put it away.
Waxahachie (13-3) will now play in the Arlington Invitational this weekend against some more strong opponents. On Friday, the Lady Indians will play Fort Worth Paschal at 10 a.m., Byron Nelson at noon and Richardson Pearce at 2 p.m. All of those matches will be at Arlington Marin High School.
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