By now, every fan of Waxahachie volleyball is well aware of the Lady Indians state and national rankings, as well as their perfect run through the first half of District 7-6A.
They have also told anyone who will listen that the Lady Indians have not dropped a single set — not just a match — since Aug. 28 and that they’ve only dropped nine sets all season en route to a 34-4 record.
The latest win, a 25-15, 25-13. 25-20 sweep of Cedar Hill at home Friday, was just the latest in their nine-match winning streak that has seen the team climb to No. 16 in the USA Today Super25 national poll and No. 10 in the Texas Girls Coaches Association 6A rankings.
“I actually mentioned in our pregame talk that we cannot get caught up in any hype because it is easy to just kind of rest easy and say, ‘look we haven’t lost a set in this long’ or think ‘we’re ranked this,’” head volleyball coach Sandy Faussett said. “We just have to continue to improve. The past two weeks during offense [practice] we have really been hammering that home and preaching that we have to play an entire match. Focus and intensity have been our primary goal for the past two weeks.”
The Lady Indians quickly built a 10-4 lead in the opening set before the Lady Longhorns reeled off five consecutive points to pull within one, 10-9.
A little later in the set, back-to-back kills by Becca Pulfer and Nalls after somewhat lengthy volleys put the Lady Indians up 19-13 and forced a Cedar Hill timeout.
Clerkley recorded a pair of blocks out of the break — and her third and fourth of the first set, though she was only credited with one stuff-block for a point in the official books — to push Waxahachie ahead 20-13.
Mott then followed a Cedar Hill miscue with a pair of kills from the left side and Nalls followed with one of her own for a 24-15 advantage.
The latter followed with a second kill to give the first set to the Lady Indians, 25-15.
The Lady Longhorns inability to keep a serve inbound combined with a pair of Mott kills pushed the Lady Indians out to a quick 4-2 lead in set No. 2.
“Lacy played a great first and second set,” Faussett said of Mott, who finished with 10 kills and four digs. “I know she had her season-high in digs today, her season-high in blocks today and probably had her season-high in kills. She just had a really solid match.”
Four consecutive aces by Ward continued the Lady Indians run in the second set and helped extend the advantage to six points, 11-4.
Cedar Hill eventually tightened up its game and the score, pulling within five, before the Lady Indians went on an 8-3 run for a 23-13 advantage.
Ward then tallied two more aces to run her set total to six for the 25-13 set-two win.
“Rags served great tonight,” said Faussett of the setter, who finished with a match-high seven aces. “She did a great job, as did Nalls with topspin and Ana with her short serve.
“I think that is one of our biggest strengths this year. We have a good variety with our serving game,” Faussett continued. “We have kids who can really position serve. We have kids who can hit a short serve really well, which really puts kids off balance because they don’t know where to position themselves on serve receive.”
The third set began with a fantastic forward-diving dig by Whitehead that led to Crownover terminating a Ward set off of the noggin of a Lady Longhorn in the back row.
Cedar Hill did, however, take its first lead of the match six serves later, 4-3. It was short lived.
The Lady Indians regained control thanks to an unforced error and a Mott kill for a 5-4 advantage. They then found themselves tied again a little later in the match, 8-8. And again at nines. As well as at 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16-all.
Clerkley then delivered on a zip from Ward. Her kill from center sparked a 3-0 Lady Indians run and forced the first Cedar Hill timeout of the third set.
“Momentum in volleyball, it just swings and swings and swings,” explained Faussett, who also noted the Lady Indians trying multiple new positions in serve receive could have played a part in their inability to separate during the middle portion of the set.
“We feel like we need to do that going into the second round of district play so that when we get into rotation one we are not doing the same thing that we are in rotation two,” she continued. “[…] But those huge kills are just a huge momentum swing and if you watch the other team you can tell just how much it does for you. I felt like we kind of fed off of that. I was really pleased with the way we finished.”
But, led by two kills and block by Morghan Chambers, the Lady Longhorns fought back to take a 20-19 lead.
Two Nalls kills — including one on an over-pass that nearly drove the screws out of the hardwood floor — and a Cedar Hill unforced error put the Lady Indians back in front, 22-20.
“It’s like it’s in slow motion,” Faussett laughed, recalling the Nalls kill on the over-pass. “You’re just like, ‘here it comes.’ She just handles those so well. It was a good moment.”
One final Crownover kill from the right and the last by Nalls from the left sealed the third-set win, 25-20.
Nalls led the Lady Indians with 22 kills and added eight digs, two blocks and two aces.
Clerkley added four kills and Crownover had three.
Ward accounted for 18 service points and added a match-high 34 assists. Wells led the Lady Indians with 10 digs and Whitehead added eight.
The Lady Indians begin the second half of District 7-6A action at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday on the road against Grand Prairie.