HIGHLAND PARK – Two of the state’s top four volleyball programs got together Tuesday night in one final tune-up before district play begins.
No. 3 Waxahachie visited No. 4 Highland Park in their second meeting of the year. Waxahachie beat the Lady Scots 21-25, 25-22, 25-20 in tournament action at Trophy Club Nelson. At that time, the Lady Indians were unranked and Highland Park was No. 2 in the state.
Waxahachie wouldn’t be so fortunate Tuesday night on the home court for the Lady Scots as it lost 25-16, 20-25, 25-21, 25-23.
While the match was as close as the score indicates, the Lady Indians gave up several points to Highland Park due to unforced errors.
“They have tons of offense and play good, scrappy defense so you’ve got to be at your best and late in the match we didn’t,” Waxahachie volleyball coach Sandy Faussett said. “You don’t notice it much in the beginning of the year when you aren’t playing teams as good as this, but when we face this caliber of opponent, that stuff can cost you a match.”
In the third set, four of the first six points for Highland Park came on Waxahachie ball-handling errors. The Lady Indians got off to a hot start in that set riding the momentum of the set two victory, but those mistakes allowed the Lady Scots to get right back in the match.
Once Highland Park took the lead 9-8 in the third set, it never looked back. The Lady Indians were within four points the rest of the set, but they couldn’t quite get back into the frame.
“We’ve got to clean that stuff up because that was the difference there,” Faussett said. “We can have maybe one missed serve a set, but we can’t have more than that while still serving aggressively.”
With its back against the wall in the fourth set, Waxahachie came out swinging. Outside hitter Lyndsey Griffith started hitting the ball hard and was landing a couple of their shots, but Waxahachie still trailed 20-19. Lisa Trevino took over and connected on three straight shots to give the Lady Indians a 22-21 lead.
“I asked them, ‘Who wants to hit the ball hard?’ before that last set. We aren’t out here to just tip the ball,” Faussett said. “I actually liked the way we came out in the fourth set and swung a little bit harder and played more aggressive. We didn’t win, but that’s the formula to win.”
After Trevino’s hot streak, the Lady Scots took a time out and the Lady Indians ran the same play three times in a row to try and seal the match. But the team couldn’t convert on any of its attempts as the Lady Scots rallied to win.
“We tried the same thing three times in a row and they were expecting different results. So we have to work on our offense a bit,” Faussett said. “We have to find out what the next step is, if something isn’t working. If the hitter is unsuccessful, you have to go somewhere else for a bit to let them get back in their groove because going back to her is too predictable and puts too much pressure on the hitter.”
Faussett noted the differences between the Highland Park team she beat just 17 days earlier was that it passed much better, which allowed them to use their middle attack more effectively.
“We made a pretty good adjustment by the fourth game with our blocking and we were blocking the line really well,” Faussett said. “But they made an adjustment on our adjustment and started hitting at a sharper angle and hurt us there too.”
While the result wasn’t what the coach was hoping for, Faussett does always enjoy playing Highland Park, which is where she coached before taking the job in Waxahachie. It’s been two years since she had been back on the campus.
“It definitely feels familiar. I saw some players I used to coach 15 years ago that came up and talked to me earlier,” Faussett said. “I know their coaches very well so we had a little reunion with them and some of the other ex-coaches that came to watch.”
She tries to schedule the Lady Scots as often as she can for multiple reasons.
“It’s fun coming here because we know we are going to get good competition and I don’t get lost coming here,” Faussett said. “When we drive here, I know where to park and how to get there. I can’t do that for a lot of other places we play.”
The coach won’t have to worry about getting lost when the team takes the court Friday.
The Lady Indians (23-5) begin district play at home against their biggest rival, Red Oak (16-9) at 5:30 p.m.
The two teams have already faced off twice this year and have each gotten a victory.
Waxahachie swept Red Oak 25-19. 27-25, 25-16 in the Denton Ryan Kick-Off Classic in the first week of the season. The Lady Indians were led by senior Courtney Miller’s 30 kills. Later that day, she injured her knee and isn’t expected back until October.
The second time the teams faced off, Red Oak pulled out the victory 25-21, 19-25. 27-25 in the Arlington Invitational.
With Miller and fellow starter Sorrel Barnes missing that match, the Lady Indians ran a balanced offense. Trevino led the way with nine kills. Audrey Willett and Lauren Atkins had six while Griffith and Mary Kate Clark each had five kills.