RED OAK — Reaching a career milestone is worthy of celebration. And, according to the Red Oak Lady Hawk volleyball team, it is also worth shedding a celebratory tear or three.
Red Oak head volleyball coach Hope Porter picked up career win No. 300 in a five-set come-from-behind win over rival Waxahachie in the first District 10-5A Battle of 77 this season, 21-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-16, 15-11.
“After that second set I kind of jumped on them a little bit," Porter said, "and I preach to them all of the time that when things are going bad, you have to celebrate the little things. Force it. If you keep forcing that celebration of those little things then the momentum is going to swing. When you get that momentum you have to run with it and, for the most part, I thought we did that.”
“I’m proud of those kids," she added.
Waxahachie (21-13, 4-3 in District 10-5A) head volleyball coach Sandy Faussett said her team came out the first two sets and played "phenomenal." But recognized (29-3, 7-0) Red Oak had an answer for the Lady Indian attack.
However, Faussett still sees plenty of potential for the Lady Indians as they begin round two of district play.
"They had a little bit more of an answer for us in the third set, and I don’t think we responded well. I don’t think we battled enough. We have to realize that they are a great team and they are going to put some balls down, but each one is only worth one point," Faussett explained. "We just have to have an answer for it, and that is all we hope to do. We know we are not going to go into a game and be perfect or not make any mistakes, but we are just trying to limit our mistakes and then have an answer for when they do something well.”
Four of Katie Hess' 18 kills helped Red Oak build a 7-3 lead early in set three. The lead grew to 9-4 before Faussett called the first timeout of the set.
Red Oak maintained the five-point lead to 15-10. Emily North then fired home a kill down the left in-line and Katelyn Malone followed with a tip over an Essence Clerkley block for a 17-10 Lady Hawk advantage.
The Lady Hawks twice thought they had secured the set win while at game point, but the diving bodies on the Waxahachie side of the net continued to find a way to keep the ball off of the floor. Red Oak did, though, find a way to push one and win set three, 25-23.
With Emily Smith serving, Red Oak again jumped out to a quick lead on Waxahachie. Her ace followed by a Lady Indian hitting error put Red Oak up 5-1 before Lacy Mott drilled home a kill for the Lady Indians.
Red Oak reached double figures a few serves later and forced a Faussett timeout up 10-3.
The Lady Hawks continued their roll, building a double-digit lead, 17-7 after back-to-back North kills.
Red Oak won the set 25-16.
The fifth set began as a back-and-forth affair, but kills from Hess and North followed by a two-handed Kendra Mcruffin block put Red Oak up 8-4. The run continued when Hess rolled a ball over to the center of the Lady Indian defense and North fired home her fourth kill of the set. A pair of Waxahachie errors then put Red Oak up 12-4.
Waxahachie clawed back though, pulling within 13-7 to force a Porter timeout.
Red Oak eventually won the fifth and deciding set after a Lady Indian error, 15-11.
Hess led Red Oak with 18 kills, while North added 14 kills, Hunt had seven kills and Kennedy Wiley had six. North led the team with 22 assists and Emily Smith added 20. Hunt also had eight blocks and Kendra Mcruffin had seven.
Libero Kylie Bryan had 18 digs. Hess and North accounted for 16 and 14 digs, each.
For Waxahachie, Macie Milholen led the way with 14 kills, Essence Clerkley had 12 kills and Lacy Mott had six. Taylor Stoops accounted for 36 assists and Stoops and Allie Wells had 17 digs.
Red Oak clinched the home win with a Waxahachie service error, 15-11.
As for win No. 300, Porter said the credit is with her senior class who has trusted in her, as she has trusted in them, over the last three years.
The win was the very first for the current Lady Hawks over the Lady Indians at the varsity level in their careers. It also marked the first time for Red Oak to finish at least one round of district play undefeated since 2013 and continues the longest winning streak (22 games) since 2009 (27 games).
The win also moved Porter to a career record of 300-107.
"They had a little bit more of an answer for us in the third set and I don’t think we responded well. I don’t think we battled enough. We have to realize that they are a great team and they are going to put some balls down but each one is only worth one point. We just have to have an answer for it and that is all we hope to do," Porter said. "We know we are not going to go into a game and be perfect or not make any mistakes, but we are just trying to limit our mistakes and then have an answer for when they do something well.”