Lady Mustangs battle Giddings in Area

Posted 11/3/20

The Madisonville volleyball team defeated Rusk in four matches at Crockett High School Thursday to advance to the Area playoffs for the second straight season. The Lady Mustangs battled Giddings in Navasota Tuesday with a trip to the Regional Quarterfinals on the line.

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Lady Mustangs battle Giddings in Area

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The Madisonville volleyball team defeated Rusk in four matches at Crockett High School Thursday to advance to the Area playoffs for the second straight season. The Lady Mustangs battled Giddings in Navasota Tuesday with a trip to the Regional Quarterfinals on the line.

“The kids were really excited about tonight,” said head coach Kristen Hooten, who has led the team to Area in back-to-back years after the program fell short of the feat for over a decade. “All season long we’ve been waiting for this moment, a lot of (the players) said they woke up in the middle of the night ready to play. I thought we came out with high energy the first two games.”

Madisonville jumped out in front of Rusk and took the first two matches by scores of 25-16 and 25-13.

The Lady Mustangs used a 9-1 run to build a lead in the opening set after dropping the first two points. Rusk was able to cut the deficit to five before a Grace Williamson kill gave Madisonville the ball and a 19-13 lead.

Hooten called timeout when Rusk trimmed the deficit back to five. A Grayson Bennett loft found the floor and gave Madisonville the ball back before Haley Fleck sealed the game with three straight serves.

Rusk built an early advantage in the second set and were leading 8-4 before Raegan Olvera delivered nine straight successful serves to put Madisonville back on top for good.

“I think we’ve been in adversity all year long,” said Hooten. “Very rarely do we jump out on teams, so we have had a lot of practice coming from behind. I think the difference between this team and the teams of the past is that in the past we have kind of folded. This year’s group is a lot more resilient.”

Rusk bounced right back in game three to avoid the sweep with a 25-12 victory. They got out in front of the Lady Mustangs early and never relinquished the lead.

“We have had a problem with not closing and that kind of happened again tonight, but we dug out,” said Hooten. “That was a big thing: not giving in and coming back from behind, which makes it even more exciting.”

Rusk appeared to be on their way to forcing a winner-take-all fifth set by building a 17-10 advantage in game four. But Madisonville remained resilient and responded with a block from Williamson and Briana Johnson to earn the ball back and trim the deficit.

Trailing 16-21, Williamson hit five straight from the service line to give the team their first lead of the match. This run was assisted by a diving save from Olvera, which kept the rally alive and ultimately led to a successful point.

Rusk managed to get the ball back, but Madisonville quickly broke the serve and finished off the Eagles 25-22.

“I still think we don’t know how good we can actually be,” said Hooten. “We are still not playing to our ability and once we get that together with all six people on the court, we do play really well. They do have the goal of making the Regional tournament, and so this is one step further.”

The winner of Tuesday’s matchup against Giddings advanced to the Regional Quarterfinals to face either Jarrell or Robinson.

“With nine seniors, you don’t have to do a lot of firing up,” said Hooten. “They are ready. They know tomorrow is not promised and that each game could be their last.”

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