RED OAK — There will not be too many "firsts" this year for the senior-heavy Lady Hawk volleyball team. Tuesday was, however, a bit of an exception after Red Oak defeated Frisco in three sets for its first three-set home sweep and first match played during the school year this season.
The Lady Hawks recorded a three-set road sweep last Tuesday against Waco Robinson and, because of shortened tournament matches, have seven two-set sweeps. The win pushed Red Oak to 15-3 on the season and the career record of Red Oak head volleyball coach Hope Porter to 286-107.
Red Oak wasted little time in the first set, jumping out to a 7-1 lead that was never closely challenged. One of the eight Lady Raccoon service errors on the evening put the Lady Hawks up game-point to 20 and an Emily North kill sealed the first-set win, 25-20.
In a back-and-forth second set, it was a Lili Ratliff ace that put Red Oak up five points, 16-11 and forced the first of two Frisco time outs. North set up a Hailey Hunt kill a few serves later that led to the second Lady Raccoon time out and pushed Red Oak ahead by seven, 21-14.
Hunt found another one of her team-high 10 kills to push to game point. Katie Hess then finished off the 25-17 second set win with one of her nine kills.
The third set started as close as the second. The momentum then shifted following a Ratliff dig and a stiff Serena Patterson two-handed block from the middle. Patterson's seventh kill of the match on the next serve put Red Oak firmly in the driver's seat toward a straight-set sweep, 21-16.
Just like the first home win last Monday, Megan Comeaux finished the match-clinching set with a kill. Red Oak took the third set, 25-17.
MORE TOOLS IN THE BELT
Before the third set, Porter had Ratliff and Kylie Bryan swap (no, not actually trade) jerseys, moving Ratliff to libero. The wardrobe change had little to do with play by either girl on the court but was instead an opportunity for Porter to continue adding additional tools to the Lady Hawks' toolbelt.
The two combined for 14 digs.
"We are constantly trying to build a little chemistry and do different things in case something happens," she said.
Porter later added, "I like having all of these opportunities early in the season to get other kids on the court and get some more looks to see where they are more comfortable and get them more comfortable. If something does happen, then they should be able to step in and not have any of the nerves or uncertainty that comes with it when you don't have the court experience."
ALL GOLD EVERYTHING
The win Tuesday was the seventh straight for the Lady Hawks who were fresh off of a consolation championship that required a bounceback performance.
"We walked out of the gym last Thursday with our heads hanging and they were a little disappointed," said Porter when asked about the two opening losses in the Northwest ISD tournament over the weekend. "I believe it was those kinds of matches where they could have gone either way — a ball falls here or roll off the tape there. They were really competitive though and I really liked the way they played."
Later that night Porter said she reminded her girls that there was still a lot of volleyball to be played and they had to have a short-term memory.
The Lady Hawks listened and reeled off six-straight wins on their way to a gold division consolation championship.
"I was pleased with the way they responded. I thought we started off pretty sluggish Saturday morning, but if it gets the job done, then I can't complain a whole lot."
The tournament also allowed Red Oak to test the waters against four District 10-5A opponents, three of which joined the Lady Hawks in the postseason in 2016. However, she is still debating if the early matchups against Waxahachie, Midlothian, Mansfield Lake Ridge and Mansfield Legacy will prove to be more beneficial for the Lady Hawks or their competition.
"I don't always like to jump into preseason with (district) teams. You have to know your team a little bit. Are they going to get a little relaxed because they won or are they going to use it as a motivation of a 'Hey, we can be even better?' I'm hoping that we are on the far end of that and will use it as a little motivation to work a little harder and get better."
ONE LAST TOURNEY
The Lady Hawks return to tournament action this weekend, though not quite to the same field or format as the previous two that saw the group play six and eight matches, respectively. Instead, Red Oak will head to Arlington for two days of action where teams will play two five-set matches each day.
"They are pretty beat up right now and they have been working hard since Aug. 1," Porter said. "[...] We are going to go over there and play and do the best we can."
"I think we should be able to look at some things over the weekend and I think we should be fairly successful over there. That's the plan anyway."
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith