Lady Mustangs earn playoff win

Posted 11/12/19

The Madisonville Lady Mustangs volleyball team won their first playoff game in 11 years on Nov. 5 with a Bi-District victory over Huntington in Crockett before falling to Lorena in the Area round at Cameron ISD on Thursday.

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Lady Mustangs earn playoff win

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The Madisonville Lady Mustangs volleyball team won their first playoff game in 11 years on Nov. 5 with a Bi-District victory over Huntington in Crockett before falling to Lorena in the Area round at Cameron ISD on Thursday.

“That was a streak we wanted to break and we talked about that,” said head coach Kristen Hooten after the Bi-District win. “The girls have just bought into what we are trying to do in the weight room and on the court, which is to build a winning program.”

The Lady Mustangs came out strong in Crockett and never relinquished control, defeating Huntington in three straight matches for the second time of the season by scores of 25-10, 25-9 and 25-16.

“This was really important for us, to go into the playoffs and win a game,” said Hooten. “We finished last in district last season and sat at home while others played in this game. We were not going to be in that position again and making the playoffs was not going to be enough.”

Madisonville got off to a 7-2 lead in the opening match of the postseason with the help of three-straight at the service line from Haley Fleck. A Grace Williamson kill would give the Lady Mustangs an 11-3 advantage and allow Reagan Olvera to continue her own early streak at the line.

Huntington was never able to cut the deficit to less than nine in the first match. Another Williamson kill gave Madisonville the ball back and allowed Fleck to close out the game.

Two more kills from Williamson allowed Madisonville to build an early, 3-0 advantage in the second game. Olvera and Khyra Cooper added kills of their own down the stretch to assist in building another insurmountable lead.

Game three, the night’s most competitive, saw Huntington hang around in the early portion of the match. But Madisonville slowly proved to be too much as the match progressed and were able to build a cushion down the stretch. Kyndall Creighton delivered a late kill to get the ball back for her team and secure the victory.

“We had a really bad practice last night, probably the worst of the year, so I was a little concerned,” said Hooten after the win. “But I have also been in positions where you have a really bad practice then come out strong. I think they were ready for this day to come and they were not happy with the way they practiced, so they were fired up.”

On Thursday, Madisonville took on highly-touted Lorena in Cameron with a trip to the Regional Quarterfinals on the line. The Lady Leopards entered the matchup with over 30 wins and an undefeated record in district. In fact, they had not even lost a single match since Oct. 1.

This trend would continue for Lorena in Cameron with a win in three straight matches over the Lady Mustangs by scores of 25-14, 25-13 and 25-18.

“We kind of just lost it early on and never got it back,” said Hooten after the Area loss. “We played better in the third game, but not to the level we are capable of. We have kind of done this several times this year throughout the season against good teams. We had a lot of unforced errors tonight and we talked about how we could not have those. We missed serves and we are not typically a team that does that.”

The Lady Mustangs got off to a quick, 4-1 start over Lorena on Thursday with the help of an early Williamson kill. The Lady Leopards, however, rattled off nine straight points to set the tone for the rest of the game.

“(Lorena) is a good team” said Hooten. “They are solid and can hit the ball well. We are small on the front row and blocking has always been our weakness. We knew that coming in and knew we would have to block well. We did not do that.”

Mistakes plagued the Lady Mustangs throughout the contest. They were able to keep it close in the third match before Lorena began to pull away halfway through. Madisonville was able to cut the deficit to five late, but got no closer.

The loss marks the end of the line for seniors Khyra Cooper and Monique Berry, but the team will return eight juniors and the bulk of their starting lineup in 2020. The senior-heavy squad will look to continue to make further strides under Hooten in her third year at the helm.

“As a coach, you cannot just look at the last game and base your season on that,” said Hooten. “You need to look at the overall strides we did make. We won 11 games last year and 27 this year, that is a big deal. We accomplished a lot. We felt like this was a game we could have won, so we are disappointed. But we’ll be back here. I have no doubt.”

Lorena advanced to the Regional Quarterfinals to meet Midlothian Heritage with the win.

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