Last week the Waxahachie Lady Indians made the jump from being unranked in the Texas Girls Coaches Association preseason Class 4A poll to just making the top-10. After a strong performance in the Byron Nelson Volleyball Classic the Lady Indians are moving up the polls once again.
Waxahachie took fifth place in the Classic and jumped from No. 10 in the weekly poll to No. 4 as the Lady Indians defeated three teams ranked in the top-15 in the preseason poll while losing only to the nation’s No. 1 team, Lake Travis.
Lake Travis remained the No. 1 team in Texas in the poll released Monday while Waxahachie’s climb was once again one of the biggest jumps in 4A.
Waxahachie (14-2) opens District 15-4A play tonight in Ennis as the top team in district according to the TGCA poll as it leap-frogged No. 7 Red Oak.
Red Oak has not lost a district match since 1990 but enters district play this season as the underdogs with Waxahachie claiming the highest position in the poll for any Region II team.
One reason for Waxahachie’s climb this week was the fact that the Lady Indians defeated preseason No. 14 Hereford and this week’s No. 14 Dawson in pool play Friday before topping El Paso Chapin in the opening round of the Classic Saturday.
After the 25-16, 25-16 win against Chapin, the Lady Indians faced off against Lake Travis in round two.
Lake Travis won the match 25-11, 25-14 but the early season meeting between two of the state’s top teams was something coach Sandy Faussett-Stoops and her Lady Indians plan to use to improve.
“What’s great (about the tournament) is that it allows us to identify things we may have to put into our offense and the things we need to work on,” Faussett said. “We got tested by the best team there is right now. So we’d like to learn from that.”
Lake Travis took a 10-1 lead in the second set after winning the first set by 13 points, but the Lady Indians bounced back and showed they can compete with the best.
“We focused a lot at the end,” Waxahachie senior team captain Kate Praslicka said. “We were even with them after trailing early. It’ll make us better. We want to be at that level, so it’s good to play teams like that.”
Praslicka finished the match with eight kills and nine digs to lead the Lady Indians while Courtney Miller added seven kills and Lacie Tucker had 11 digs.
Tucker had a strong tournament and was key in helping the Lady Indians bounce back from their second loss of the season and finish strong.
Waxahachie dropped into a small bracket for a chance at fifth place with the loss to Lake Travis and opened the bracket with a three-set win against Highland Park, the state’s No. 9 team at the time.
Highland Park, a Region II tournament qualifier last season, opened the match with a 25-21 victory before Waxahachie rallied back to take the final two sets 25-19, 25-20.
The win against a Region II powerhouse showed that the Lady Indians are one of, if not the, best team in the region.
On the opposite side of the fifth place bracket, Red Oak lost to tournament host Byron Nelson in two sets; 27-25, 25-18.
Nelson’s victory over Red Oak marked the second loss in bracket play for the Lady Hawks and pitted the host against the Lady Indians for fifth place.
Waxahachie opened the match against Nelson with a 25-16 victory before Nelson rallied to take the second set 25-23. In the deciding third set the Lady Indians prevailed 25-16 in what would prove to be the final three-set match of the tournament.
Lake Travis defeated No. 2 Aledo 25-18, 25-16 after the win against Waxahachie to advance to the championship game where it defeated No. 3 Canyon Randall 25-17, 25-7.
Randall won pool four with a 3-0 record and defeated Red Oak in three sets while finishing the tournament with just one loss, like Waxahachie. Aledo finished the tournament in third place as it defeated No. 6 Dumas 27-25, 25-18 in its final game to also finish with one loss.
Waxahachie’s Tucker was one of 11 players to earn all-tournament honors. She was named all-tournament as a defensive specialist along with Aledo’s Shannon Taylor. Lake Travis had three players earn all-tournament status, two taking home superlative honors as MVP and top setter, while Aledo and Keller each had two players make all-tournament.
Keller finished the tournament with a 5-1 record as it tied for the pool eight championship with a 3-1 record to advance to the silver bracket which it won with victories over Santa Fe, Hewitt Midway and Midlothian.
“The girls played really well this weekend and definitely took up the intensity level,” Faussett said. “This was a great weekend of competition. We learned a lot about our strengths and weaknesses and our ability to make adjustments during play. Our match on Friday night against Dawson was a good test for us as they had a lot of offensive weapons and played scrappy defense.”
Faussett said every player made improvements during the tournament and that was reflected in the team’s overall performance.
As a team, Waxahachie served 97 percent in the seven games topping the goal of 95 percent. Tucker led the way with 47 points off serve with eight aces while Praslicka had 39 points and 10 aces. Kristen Foster had 36 points, Ashlyn Risk 25, Cara Partington 22 and Carley Hess 21 as the serving rotation was on it’s “A” game just three weeks into the season.
After being named all-tournament in the Denton Ryan Kick-off Classic, Praslicka was a force to be reckoned with once again as the senior had 90 kills in seven games with 19 coming against Dawson and 21 against Highland Park.
Miller had 29 kills. Hess added 24 while senior Sophie Stevens had 17.
Praslicka and Kelsey Vincent each finished the tournament with 10 blocks while Foster had eight and Hess six.
Tucker recorded 108 digs and was 106-for-129 passing (82 percent) while Praslicka had 56 digs, Risk 45 and Foster 37. Risk was 30-for-41 passing while Foster was 32-for-45.