The Lady Indians volleyball team will not sit in a first-period class inside the new high school until Wednesday. Yet, they've already accomplished a feat no other Waxahachie team has even had the opportunity to match.
They're a state-ranked 6A program. And for good reason.
Waxahachie improved to 19-2 on the season Saturday after a second-consecutive 8-1 showing in tournament action. The Lady Indians ultimately fell in the championship match of the Northwest ISD tournament to perennial 6A power, Byron Nelson, 25-17, 25-23.
The Lady Indians checked in at No. 5 in this week's Texas Girls Coaches Association 6A poll.
To get into the championship bracket of the 61-team field, Waxahachie marched through two rounds of pool play undefeated against Mesquite Horn, All Saints, El Paso Coronado, Frisco Liberty, Amarillo and Flower Mound.
The Lady Indians then defeated Aledo to open play in the gold bracket on Saturday and followed with a victory against 5A-nemesis Lovejoy.
When asked if the Lady Indians have ever started the first 21 matches of a season with 19 wins, head coach Sandy Faussett briefly paused and said, "I don't think so." She did recall an equally impressive start to the 2004 season when the Lady Indians won the Northwest ISD tournament and the one prior. “It might have been close to , but not that high.”
“You kind of go in there with the competition being so stiff and expect to probably drop a couple matches," Faussett explained. "But I'll tell you what, they just got after it, especially after that first day because I thought we played really well that second day. When we saw who our opponents were for that second day, I knew we had to play really great volleyball, or we could be 0-3 just as easily as we could be 3-0. The girls just played really good, consistent, sound, fundamental volleyball.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Ragan Ward led the team with 216 assists during the tournament, which included 34 in a three-set win against Frisco Liberty and 32 more against Lovejoy. She finished the week with 282.
The majority of those assists — roughly 61 percent — found the right hand of Audrey Nalls, both in the three-day tournament and in the pair of wins earlier in the week against Red Oak and Midway.
Nalls finished the weekend with 138 kills to run her total to 173 for the week. She was also named to the all-tournament team.
“They both compliment each other and Rags is sitting in a good situation," Faussett said. "She has Nalls who is putting the ball away well, and she has other hitters that are complimenting that pretty well. We have to eventually spread our offense out a little more to be strong down the road, but Nalls is just doing such a great job terminating the ball. They both look really, really good right now.”
Faussett also noted that, though a bit undersized to run the 5-1 offense, Ward is “doing a great job running our offense.” She added that Ward continues to make sound decisions with the ball and put the Lady Indian hitters in a position to score. “We have been really pleased with what we have seen from her."
Courtney Crownover recorded 38 kills on her way to an all-tournament team selection. She added five blocks to her weekend line.
Faussett said Crownover entered the weekend searching for a little consistency in her attack but thinks the showing will do wonders for her confidence moving forward.
“She played her best volleyball on Saturday when the competition was the stiffest. When she is on she is really on and she is only going to get better," Faussett said. "[...] We know she is talented, and we have a lot of faith in her ability to put the ball away.”
Other Lady Indians with double-digit kills on the weekend included Essence Clerkley (31) and Lacy Mott (40). Madison Babers also terminated seven balls.
Alli Wells made her presence known on the back row for the Lady Indians throughout the weekend en route to her all-tournament defensive MVP award.
Wells recorded a team-high 78 digs and finished 100-of-117 (85.5 percent) in serve-receive. She also added nine assists.
“She played outstanding this weekend," Faussett said. "She has always been a really, really strong defensive player for us. She really does a good job of that, and I think we saw a glimpse of that at the regional quarterfinals last year when she had that outstanding game with like 10 digs on game point. It was just something crazy. She is just really solid back there.”
Nalls was second on the team with 47 digs, while Baylee Whitehead was 42-of-44 on the weekend on serves received.
Whitehead also led the Lady Indians with 52 service points and added three aces. "Her service game was spot-on," Fausett said.
Ward tallied 29 service points, while Clerkley recorded four aces against All Saints.
Faussett also applauded the work of the Babers and Clerkely in the middle, as the two combined for eight blocks against some of best above-the-net teams in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
“They definitely had their work cut out for them this weekend with the hitters that they were going up against," she said. "They both did a great job for us.”
Crownover and Nalls also added five blocks, each.
The Lady Indians travel to Mesquite for a 6 p.m. match Tuesday. They then play in the final tournament of the pre-district schedule Friday and Saturday during the Lone Star Classic Tournament in Frisco.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith