RED OAK —Revenge, redemption or a winning streak, call it by any adjective you must, but all that matters to the Lady Hawks is that the three-set sweep of Mansfield Legacy moves them one step closer to clinching a playoff berth.
Red Oak (26-9, 5-3 in 10-5A) found the extra point — well, two actually — it lacked in the first meeting between the two District 10-5A foes Tuesday night for a second-straight upset win. In the first match on Sept. 9, Red Oak won the first two sets before dropping set three, 28-26. The third-set loss catapulted Mansfield Legacy to a five-set win in the district opener.
Twenty-five days later the Lady Hawks again found themselves up two sets to none with a chance to close out the Lady Broncos late in the third.
That is when Red Oak Head Coach Hope Porter called a timeout and issued a challenge to her still young volleyball team.
“Are you going to let this happen again? Because once they win one, then the momentum switches over there. So you need to stop it now,” Porter recalled telling her Lady Hawks.
Behind three of Katie Hess’ team-high 11 kills, the Lady Hawks were able to finish at least one bit of unfinished business.
“Katie Hess stepped up big with three big kills, really big kills, down the stretch, which was good to see. We haven’t really seen that player step out and put the team on their back and say ‘I gotcha.’ We have been waiting on that to happen,” said Porter after the (25-16, 25-19, 26-24) win. “[…] It was definitely a big win for us because we got to keep the momentum going from Friday in the big win against Midlothian. Also, it was a big win for us because it puts us one little step ahead of Legacy right now, now that we aren’t tied for a fourth place spot we are tied for a third place spot.
“That was a big win but we have another big game on Friday night. We had another conversation after the game that we have to take this one game at a time. We can’t talk about what is going to happen two weeks from now, or what is going to happen when. We have to talk about the immediate.”
Thanks to a No. 6 Waxahachie sweep of Mansfield Lake Ridge running concurrently with the action in Red Oak, Porter and company are in a two-way tie for third place with (28-13, 5-3) Mansfield Lake Ridge.
Capri Davis and the rest of the Lady Eagles swept the Lady Hawks (25-12, 25-23, 25-19) on Sept. 13, but that was in Mansfield. Friday’s game is in Red Oak.
The Lady Eagles are 2-4 in true road matches this season, whereas the Lady Hawks are 6-1 this year at home and have won their last six straight. It is also Homecoming week for Red Oak High School.
“Homecoming week is always a stressful week. We kind of had a short week this week because we were out Monday for Fair Day, so that was one day down where we weren’t in the Homecoming-hoopla,” Porter said. “We have just been talking about staying focused and that it’s not that I don’t want them to have fun, but we have to get into the gym and put work in and take care of this then you can have all of the fun you want afterward.
“The captains have done a really good job of calling some meetings and getting the girls together for breakfast or whatever they can to try and keep them all focused on what it is that is going on. We have a goal and we are working to get there. It basically comes down to your kids and what it is that they want to focus on. Typically when they are striving for something they tend to stay a little more focused.”
Focus was obviously not an issue Tuesday. In fact, Porter said her team took to the court with a newfound swagger — or with a chip on their shoulder, as often still labeled by non-millennials.
“That is something that I have been looking for from these kids for a while. Off the court, they are great kids. Sometimes you have to walk on the court with a little bit of a chip on your shoulder. Sometimes you have to have a bit of an attitude when you walk out there. I think, possibly, some of them are getting to that point because some of them made comments [Tuesday] morning that there were not let it happen again. They are definitely aware.”
In addition to Hess’ 11 kills, Emily North added seven, while Serna Patterson and Hailey Hunt added five, each. Keyeria Tyeskie also matched Patterson in the block category, as both juniors finished with seven blocks.
Alyssa Pevehouse played another strong game in the libero spot with 13 digs to just one error, while Kayla Brock and Emily North added 18 and 15 assists, respectively.
“I think we are getting a little better every time we have stepped on the court over these last five or six matches, so we have to just continue that trend and see where we stand at the end of the season,” Porter said.
A few more wins like the last two and the Lady Hawks will be the playing the role of favorites – not underdogs.
First service is slated for 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7 inside the gymnasium on the campus of Red Oak High School.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith