Whenever Waxahachie and Midlothian get together, no matter the sport, it’s a grudge match.
Neither squad wants to lose to their cross-county rival. And while the Panthers got a big win on the football field a week ago, the Lady Indians got a little revenge on the volleyball court Friday night.
The teams traded points for most of the first set, but Waxahachie ended the set on top 25-21. That set the tone for the rest of the match as the Lady Indians won set two 21-13 and set three 21-19.
“We wanted to beat them,” Waxahachie junior middle blocker Lauren Atkins said. “We play on club teams with a lot of those girls and its goo d to get bragging rights against them.”
While the Lady Indians now have something to talk smack about, their coach still found room for improvement with the squad’s focus.
“I’m happy with the win, but I think we’re still learning,” Waxahachie coach Sandy Faussett said. “When we add the crowd factor in at home, we sometimes struggle to keep our composure on the court and keeping the intensity level up where it needs to be.”
The Lady Indians started the match in a hole as Midlothian led 4-1, but Waxahachie rallied to take an 8-5 lead. Midlothian coach Rhonda Currey took a well-timed time out and her team responded by taking a 14-11 lead.
Waxahachie got two aces by Audrey Willett and a stuff block by Atkins to take the lead again at 16-14.
The teams traded points until the Lady Indians took the lead for good after two aces from Shelbie Tucker, who finished with four on the night.
The Lady Indians’ service game appeared to be a strength for the team as they had nine aces, 44 points on serves and just four service errors, but the coach thought it could have been better.
“We struggled a little bit with our positional serve,” Faussett said. “But they did have serves that are difficult to handle and led to some difficult passes.”
Willett was one of the team’s top servers as she was a perfect 12-for-12 on serve attempts.
“She’s just incredible,” Atkins said of Willett. “I was a sophomore on varsity last year and I was so scared. She’s showing no nerves and is doing better than I did last year.”
Willett had three kills and a block to go with her excellent serving. Atkins had five kills and two blocks.
While Atkins had just five kills two of them were big momentum killers. She has a habit taking a bad pass by the opponent and turning it into a point for Waxahachie. If a setter’s pass is too close to the net, Atkins will jump and slam the ball down for a kill.
“It’s sort of like a slap in the face,” Atkins said of her favorite type of play. “I’m aiming just beyond the 10-foot line and right where they can’t do anything about it.”
Lyndsey Griffith led the team with eight kills, Ellen Platt added six and Lisa Trevino had five. Celi Bruce had 19 digs to lead the team and Emma Hinds had 11 to help the defense. Mary Kate Clark and Tucker each had 11 assists.
The Lady Indians are still coping with two starters out due to injuries, but one of those players will be back next Friday for the district opener. Sorrel Barnes is expecting to return from an illness by then. Summer Stephens has missed the last week of games due to a knee injury, but may be returning in about a week as well.
The team is still about a month away from the return of Courtney Miller, who has the school record for kills in a season. While Waxahachie is strong now, it looks like it will just get tougher as it gets healthier.
It’s a pretty good time for that to happen as the No. 4 Lady Indians (24-4) will visit No. 5 Highland Park at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Following that, Waxahachie will start district play with a home match at 5:30 p.m. Friday against No. 9 Red Oak, which handed the Lady Indians one of their losses.