Only one team is ever genuinely pleased with the way a volleyball season ends. After a five-set thriller in front of several hundred Waxahachie faithful, that team will unfortunately not be the Lady Indians.
Southlake Carroll put an end to the magical run through the first season in Class 6A for the Lady Indians on the court Tuesday night at Arlington Martin High School, 24-26, 25-21, 25-22, 12-15.
“About midway through the fourth set, we started to make some unforced errors and that is when the mental part of the game comes into play," head volleyball coach Sandy Faussett recalled. "You start doubting yourself and not trusting each other enough to do the job and that chemistry and unity that has to happen, it just doesn’t happen.”
She also credited the Lady Dragons for their play in the front row, stating Southlake "did a great job of running a quick offense and we had a tough time getting our hands on the ball to slow them down and then they could cut around it. They gave us a lot to defend.”
The Lady Indians jumped out to a 17-10 lead in the first set, only to have Southlake Carroll rally and close on a 16-7 run to win the opener, 24-26.
Waxahachie had a chance to put the set away at 24-23.
Courtney Crownover then capped the next two stellar sets with kills to push the Lady Indians ahead two games to one (25-21, 25-22).
“In the last match against Coppell, Courtney played her best match all season, so we knew she was someone we could go to," Faussett said. "And I’ll tell you what — Lacy Mott played a fantastic match, too. She really stepped up for us.”
With a chance to clinch a 6A regional tournament berth squarely in their sights, the Lady Indians found themselves in an early hole, 7-3, in the fourth set.
Faussett then called a timeout to calm the nerves and Lacy Mott rewarded the decision with a kill from the right side.
Anna Rodgers followed Mott’s lead from the back row two serves later.
Unfortunately, neither attack sparked the run needed for the Lady Indians to make a quick comeback. The Lady Dragons carried a 15-9 advantage into a second Faussett timeout, only to falter on the serve out of the break.
The lead shrunk to four points a few serves later on a zip pass from Ward to Essence Clerkley. A fantastic dig by Rodgers on the ensuing Southlake Carroll attack then led to a Lady Dragon error to pull Waxahachie within three, 17-14.
Then a missed tipped — or at least one that all of Waxahachie claimed to have seen — by the head official and line judge swung the momentum back in favor of the Lady Dragons. They then promptly took a 23-15 lead.
Southlake Carroll eventually evened the match with a rather convincing fourth-set win, 25-17.
With the Lady Dragons up 4-3 in the final set, a Madison Babers block from center brought the standing-room-only Waxahachie home side to their feet. It was quickly followed by a 2-0 Southlake Carroll run to force a Faussett timeout.
Crownover fired home a kill out of the break, but she was followed by a Lady Indian blocking error and a second error on a dig to push the Lady Dragons ahead, 8-5.
The three-point Southlake Carroll advantage, 10-7, carried into a second Waxahachie timeout.
It then quickly ballooned to five, 12-7, before Audrey Nalls found the floor with a kill. The kill was the final one in the high school career for arguably the most talented Lady Indian outside hitter in program history.
She recorded an ace a couple of serves later to force the first Southlake Carroll timeout with the Lady Dragos up,13-11.
The Lady Dragons scored the next two to end the Lady Indians magical season with a 15-12 win in the fifth set.
Nalls recorded a team-high 35 kills on 76 attempts with 13 errors. She also recorded four aces, 16 digs and one block.
Crownover added 12 kills and Mott finished with 10 on a night when Ragan Ward provided 55 assists.
Rodgers led the Lady Indians with 25 digs, Alli Wells had 16, Ward finished with 14 and Baylee Whitehead had nine.
Rodgers and Ward led the team with 13 and 10 service points, respectively.
Waxahachie ends the season with the most wins in program history (44), highest-ever national ranking (9, USA Today) and highest-ever 6A ranking (7, TGCA) — all in the Lady Indians first-ever season in the highest classification in Texas.
Consequently, the Lady Indians also won their first 6A district championship during a stretch of volleyball where they went over a full month without dropping a set, won 18 consecutive matches, won 113 of 129 sets played on the season and did not play a fifth-set until their final match.
“The number of people who came out to support us, I think that was a testament to how special this season was," Faussett-Stoops said while standing in the then-empty gym that was once alive with excitement and energy produced by the largest Waxahachie crowd of the season. "They didn’t come out here to watch a team that they weren’t proud of or didn’t have a lot of respect for. I am proud of what we were able to accomplish this year, I really am. I loved this senior class. They were amazing.”