Lady Bulldogs make playoff push

Posted 11/10/20

The North Zulch volleyball team advanced to the Regional Semifinals with a victory over Oakwood in straight sets Thursday in Buffalo. The Lady Bulldogs battled Miller Grove Tuesday with a trip to the 1A Regional Finals on the line.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Lady Bulldogs make playoff push

Posted

The North Zulch volleyball team advanced to the Regional Semifinals with a victory over Oakwood in straight sets Thursday in Buffalo. The Lady Bulldogs battled Miller Grove Tuesday with a trip to the 1A Regional Finals on the line.

“I’m excited, (the players) are excited, they are starting to get a little more focused,” said head coach Melissa Padgett after Thursday’s win. “We did not play well in the (Area victory over Apple Springs), I didn't feel like. We were really nervous, none of them had ever played in a playoff game.”

North Zulch had a bye in the Bi-District playoff round and advanced straight to Area against Apple Springs Nov. 3. The Lady Bulldogs won the matchup in straight sets by scores of 25-15, 25-7 and 25-10 to set up Thursday’ date with Oakwood.

“Last year, when we finished the season in Normangee, we had to win that game to make the playoffs and we got beat,” said Padgett. “We said this isn’t where we wanted to be, we don’t want to be in the locker room crying. They showed up tonight and I’m proud of the progress we are making, I think we might peak at the right time and that is going to be key.”

The Lady Bulldogs built an early lead in all three sets over Oakwood, including a 13-3 start in the first match and a 6-0 start in the second, fueled in large part by a pair of Cheyanne Wallin kills and six straight successful serves from Paige McWilliams-Leggett.

The only set back of the night came down the stretch in the second set, when Wallin left the game with a leg injury and did not return.

“It was a little nerve-racking to see (Wallin) go down,” said Padgett Thursday. “She accounts for a lot on and off the court. She is big for us. If she cannot play (Tuesday against Miller Grove), then she can’t play Tuesday. But I need her for that (potential Regional Finals matchup).”

Wallin’s status for the Miller Grove matchup remained uncertain at the time of this writing Monday.

As a 1A team competing in a predominantly 2A district, which features a number of high-caliber 2A competitors, the Lady Bulldogs entered the postseason supremely confident in their ability to at least advance to the Regional Finals for a likely matchup against Neches.

Neches, who took on Avery in their Regional Semifinal matchup, finished their district slate with a perfect 14-0 record for the second straight year and a 25-4 record overall. The Tigers won the 1A State Championship in 2018 and 2019. They did not surrender a single match in any of their victories en route to back-to-back titles.

While all roads have pointed to Neches for quite some time, the Lady Bulldogs still needed to earn their spot in the Regional Finals against Miller Grove Tuesday. In preparation, Padgett has highlighted the importance of staying as healthy as possible as they run the postseason gauntlet.

“Stay healthy, that is our biggest deal,” said Padgett. “Practices have gotten shorter. We are just coming in to try and clean things up and maintain our legs. They have never played this deep into the season before in any sport. I think they are excited and they are ready for it. My seniors are leading like they should be.”

North Zulch’s 2020 roster features a heavy majority of senior players, including Madison Murphy, Jordan Barrington, Cheyanne Wallin, Dannicka Diserens, Tessah Haggard, Trinitty Wallace, Paige McWilliams-Leggett and Katelyn Crocker.

“These seniors deserve this,” said Padgett. “They have worked so hard in all sports. They have had a rough draw. With (NZISD Superintendent Alan Andrus) coming in (in 2017), he has really went above and beyond as Superintendent to put people in place who can do great things for all sports, because these kids deserve it.”

A potential matchup between North Zulch and Neches in the Regional Finals would likely take place in Leon later this week.

Comments