On the final night of the regular season in 2011, the Waxahachie Lady Indians were the first team in 20 years to beat the Red Oak Lady Hawks in district play.
That was still the only time in the last two decades that the Lady Hawks dropped a district match until Friday.
Waxahachie rebounded after a sluggish start to knock off the defending district champs 24-26, 25-11, 25-15, 25-22 to open 15-4A play.
And for the first time since Red Oak started dominating district play back in 1990, the Lady Indians bested their fiercest rival in their own court.
“That was incredible. So many emotions are running through me right now,” Waxahachie senior outside hitter Lisa Trevino said. “It's extremely special with this being our senior year and this was our last shot to beat them at home and we finally did it.”
Just beating Red Oak two years ago was one giant monkey off Waxahachie coach Sandy Faussett's back, but getting a win at home is even sweeter.
“It's just a different feel. It's always a huge crowd and a lot of pressure on both sides to win the match,” Faussett said. “I feel like they stepped up tonight. There's not a game that puts more pressure on them than this one just because since it's been such a long time. They know they are good enough to win, but you have all that other stuff going through their head.”
It seemed like the Red Oak mystique may have been in the Lady Indians' head in the first set. The Lady Hawks jumped out to a 6-2 lead thanks to five Waxahachie errors.
“I try not to over react in the first 10 points of a game. I try to just let them get in a groove and don't think anything is wrong because sometimes nothing is wrong and the other team is just scoring well,” Faussett said. “There are 25 points so I know that we have time to come back and we did a great job of coming back and took the lead there at the end.”
Waxahachie rallied to tie it at eight and that would be a theme for the next 26 points. Red Oak would score a couple, the Lady Indians rallied back to tie it. The set was tied six times between 8-8 and 21-21 thanks to an ace from mary Kate Clark. A hitting error by Red Oak and another ace from Clark helped Waxahachie get six straight points to take a commanding 24-21 lead.
But that lead didn't last after a time out by the Lady Hawks. Red Oak rallied to score the final five points of frame to take game one 26-24 thanks to a pair of mishits by the Lady Indians at the end.
“We made some hitting errors, some mistakes defensively and some unforced hitting errors,” Faussett said of those final five points. “We just had to let it go. We had the rest of the match to focus on and we just had to move on. I apologized for getting angry in that set, but we had to just focus on the next sets.”
And focus they did. Game two was almost a no contest. Waxahachie jumped out to a 4-1 lead and Red Oak got to within two at 7-5, but Waxahachie went on a nine-point run thanks to great serving from Shelbie Tucker to put the set away at 16-5.
The final nail in Red Oak's coffin in set two came when Clark got a stuff block and unleashed a giant fist pump as she put the Lady Indians up 21-9.
In the third set, the Lady Indians started right where they left off in set two as they jumped out to an 8-1 lead thanks to the blocking and swinging of Audrey Willett, Clark and Lauren Atkins.
Those three each took some time in the middle of the court on offense, which is something the team had been working on during the last week of practice.
“Our middles were really a factor and they played great. Our setters did a good job of finding them,” Faussett said. “That was the focus of the last few days and it was great to see it carry over from the practice and see their confidence go up especially as we try to run it faster.”
Willett had two kills and a block in those first nine points of the third set. But in typical Red Oak fashion, it fought back into the match and got to within 8-7. That was when Waxahachie took a time out and stole momentum.
After the respite, The Lady Indians rattled off four straight points and scored nine of the next 13 points to take a 17-10 lead after Tucker made a diving dig to set up a kill for Clark. The set came to a raucous ending when fittingly Willett slammed home another shot.
Even after winning those two sets, the Lady Indians' job wasn't done. They had to get one more frame to get the victory. Set four started like the two before it, with Waxahachie taking an early 4-1 lead thanks to Willett, Lauren Atkins and Ellen Platt solidifying the front row. Red Oak got two points back then Atkins and Clark shined to push the lead to 13-5.
But Red Oak battled back to tie the set at 15. The Lady Indians got going again when Lyndsey Griffith showed some displeasure in an official's call, but took it out with a big shot to put Waxahachie up 21-17.
But, like clockwork, the Lady Hawks tied the match up at 21 and again at 22. Trevino got her 14th kill, a new career high, then a wide shot by Red Oak put the Lady Indians on the brink. The Lady Hawks took a time out to try and spark a rally like they did in set one, but it didn't work this time as a shot into the net ended all hopes of a comeback.
“We just had so much energy and getting this win was such a big plus for us,” Willett, a sophomore, said. “I think that energy got better after the first set.”
Willett had nine kills and three of the Lady Indians' 18 solo blocks. Atkins had six and Clark added five.
“We had a lot of blocks tonight. I'm just trying to reach as high as I can and get as close to the outside as I can,” Willett said. “I hope I can just keep improving and getting better.”
Trevino's 14 kills led the offense and Griffith added 10. Platt had eight and Atkins contributed six.
Tucker, Clark and Celi Bruce each had two aces. Red Oak made a concerted effort to not serve the ball to Bruce and make someone else make a play. The Lady Hawks chose incorrectly as they focused their serves on Molly Jeffcoat, who didn't have a return error on 23 attempts. Emma Hinds was also a perfect 10-for-10 on returns.
Bruce did lead the team with 25 digs and Jeffcoat had 21. Clark and Hinds each had 15 digs. Tucker had a dozen digs and Aeriel Horton contributed 11.
Clark was a staggering 28-of-30 on assists and Tucker was a flawless 18-for-18. That kind of passing will lead to a long playoff run for the Lady Indians.
Waxahachie (23-5, 1-0 in 15-4A) will try to get its second district win at home Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. versus Mansfield Legacy (1-0 in 15-4A). There is a shot for some history in this match as Faussett will be going for career coaching victory No. 600.