WAXAHACHIE — Friday evening did not unfold as planned for a Lady Indian volleyball team vying for one of four district playoff spots.
Lake Ridge had the height to spare and capitalized on several Waxahachie third-set errors for the sweep at George W. Solis Gymnasium, 25-23, 25-22, 31-29. The loss drops Waxahachie to 5-4 in District 10-5A and 20-12 on the season. With five matches remaining, the Lady Indians sit two wins clear of Mansfield Summit for the final playoff spot and two wins back of third-place (24-11, 7-2) Midlothian.
After the match, Waxahachie head volleyball Sandy Faussett said she was excited to see the Lady Indians show glimpses of a newfound chemistry in Audrey Nalls’ second match of the season. She added the brief moments Friday, combined with the privilege of watching one of the hardest working teams she’s ever coached practice day in and day out, could equate to another deep playoff run.
"Obviously, we don't get to go up against the size that we saw tonight but we are starting to realize where we are going to pick up points and where we are getting stronger, and I'm encouraged by that,” Faussett said. “We didn't play up to our potential tonight and I think some doubt crept in. I told the kids we just have to keep looking up and keep doing what we have done all season — coming out and working as hard as we can. We want to continue to improve and see what happens."
Waxahachie often used a three-player block to offset the vertical game of Lake Ridge’s 6-foot-2 Madison Williams (soph, University of Texas commit) and 6-foot-3 Capri Davis (senior, Nebraska commit) and the game plan worked to an extent.
Davis recorded 15 kills and Williams had four. The Lady Eagles finished with a .189 hitting percentage as a team.
Faussett added her team knows “how to be successful against (the height of Lake Ridge) and we can be successful against it. I think there was a lot of anticipation coming into this match with getting Audrey back and a lot of excitement. I don't know if that affected the way we played, but I know something did. I'm ready to get back in the gym, get back to work and see if we can't clean up some of those things we saw tonight."
For Waxahachie, Nalls finished with a game-high 17 kills, Macie Milholen and Lacy Mott added six, Essence Clerkley had five, and Courtney Crownover had four.
Crownover did not commit an error on her nine kill attempts and often teamed up with Clerkley to provide the Lady Indians with a vocal boost.
“Over the last couple of days she has really taken off,” said Faussett of Crownover. “We were excited to see her tonight after her having a great day of practice yesterday.”
Taylor Stoops led the team with 36 assists, while Bailey Whitehead, Allison Wells, and Ragan Ward all recorded eight digs. Stoops added three aces and Nalls had two.
Faussett also noted her team’s improved passing Friday, saying, “Last time we played them we really struggled with our passing game, but we were much better tonight.” The Lady Indians had just five passing errors on their 68 attempts.
After Lake Ridge took the opening set 25-23, Waxahachie found itself down early in set number two. Two Audrey Nalls kills, a Lyric Stewart hitting error and an ace by Taylor Stoops put the Lady Indians in front, 12-10. The four-point run forced a Lake Ridge timeout.
Lake Ridge pulled within one point a little later in the set, but a Crownover kill and another hitting error put Waxahachie on top 17-14.
Two Capri Davis kills after Lady Eagle side out tied the match at 18, and a Waxahachie error put Lake Ridge back in front, 19-18.
The Lady Eagles continued their run, winning the race to 20, and built a three-point lead 22-19.
After a Milholen kill for the Lady Indians, Alysha Johnson finished the set-two Lake Ridge win 25-22.
Lake Ridge jumped out to a 3-1 lead in set three, but a Nalls ace then kick-started an 8-0 Lady Indian run for a 9-4 Waxahachie lead after the Lady Eagle side out.
Lake Ridge eventually tied the set at 12 when Logyn Hinds found an empty spot on left side of the Lady Indian defense. Nalls then fired a kill courtesy of a Stoops assist and the Lady Indians added two more points for a 15-12 advantage.
A Lady Eagle hitting error off the boundary stick put Waxahachie five points from a set win at 20-16. Essence Clerkley then benefitted from a zip set and a second Lake Ridge hitting error forced the Lady Eagles to use a timeout trailing 22-17.
"Essence really stepped up for us in the third set," said Faussett of Clerkley.
Waxahachie pushed two to set point, 24-18, before the Lady Eagles reeled off six-straight points — four off of Waxahachie errors.
Stewart blocked a kill attempt to tie the set at 24 and Nalls then sent a shot a little too hot and out of play for the one-point Lake Ridge advantage. She redeemed herself on the next serve out of a Faussett timeout but Lake Ridge again had an answer for a 26-25 lead.
The two squads traded blows over the next several serves before Lake Ridge capitalized on back-to-back long volleys for the 31-29 set win to complete the sweep.
Waxahachie will host Mansfield Timberview Tuesday, Oct. 10 at George W. Solis Gymnasium. First serve is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.