Net Gains

Best season since 2008 comes to close for Lady Mustangs

Posted 11/10/20

The Madisonville volleyball team advanced to the Regional Quarterfinals of the state playoffs for the first time since 2008 before falling to Robinson in straight sets at Fairfield High School Friday. The Lady Mustangs defeated Rusk in the Bi-District round Oct. 29 and Giddings in the Area round Nov. 3 to clinch the historic program feat.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Net Gains

Best season since 2008 comes to close for Lady Mustangs

Posted

The Madisonville volleyball team advanced to the Regional Quarterfinals of the state playoffs for the first time since 2008 before falling to Robinson in straight sets at Fairfield High School Friday. The Lady Mustangs defeated Rusk in the Bi-District round Oct. 29 and Giddings in the Area round Nov. 3 to clinch the historic program feat.

“It was our goal to win this game,” said head coach Kristen Hooten amidst the chaos in Navasota after the team became Area champions Nov. 3. “This was a step that we haven't been able to get past and I thought we played great tonight. I thought we had a lot of unforced errors that hurt us at times, but our energy was good. We fought back when we needed to.”

The Lady Mustangs built a 9-4 lead early in the first match after Briana Johnson kept a loose ball alive for Kourtney Fleck, who delivered a kill and forced Giddings to use a timeout.

Giddings fought back to bring the deficit within three, but the Lady Mustangs broke away for a 25-17 victory to start the night.

A Grace Williamson kill in the second set made the score 17-19 and gave the ball to Sidnie Smith at the serving line, who connected on back-to-back serves to tie the game. After Giddings built another two-point lead late, Williamson found the floor on a key loft to tie the game at 21.

Two double-hit calls on Giddings late allowed the Lady Mustangs to clinch the second set by a score of 25-23 and establish a commanding lead.

“We made history tonight and I couldn't be more proud of my team,” said Williamson after the game. “I am thrilled, we made it further than any team has in years. It is just crazy.”

The last two sets were highly contested, including a 27-25 Giddings victory in game three to put the pressure on the Lady Mustangs.

A Johnson block put Madisonville on top 22-19 before Giddings worked their way back with the help of an extremely close out-of-bounds call when they possessed the ball again. Williamson delivered a crucial kill to tie the game at 25 after Giddings took the lead, but the Buffaloes kept their season alive with back-to-back points to clinch game three.

“That third game that we lost could have gone either way, it was a great battle,” said Hooten. “We knew coming in that we were a pretty evenly matched team, and our girls wanted it. They really wanted this game and our seniors knew what we were fighting for.”

The fourth and final game was also decided by the minimum two-point margin with Madisonville prevailing 25-23. The Lady Mustangs built an early 4-0 advantage before Giddings scored five unanswered points, resulting in a back-and-forth contest the rest of the way.

Two Williamson blocks on the same point brought Madisonville within one midway through. They would even the score at 14 before the lights in Navasota’s gym briefly went out in the middle of a point, appropriately symbolizing the chaotic scene as the game came to a close.

Williamson would again retrieve the ball for the Lady Mustangs with a crucial kill to cut the deficit to 21-22 late. During her ensuing serve, Grayson Bennett seized an opportunity on a floating ball above the net and touched it down to tie the game at 22.

After taking the lead for the last time, Giddings missed a serve to even the game at 23. Haley Fleck would then seal the victory with a pair of back-to-back successful serves, giving the Lady Mustangs the 25-23 decision and a Regional Quarterfinals birth.

Hooten reflected on the team’s season-long goal to advance past the Area round after accomplishing the feat over Giddings and what it meant to the her nine senior players.

“I knew by the time they were seniors that this was going to be a special group and that they were going to lay the foundation for groups to come,” said Hooten, who reclaimed the role of MHS head coach in 2018. “For them to be that group, they had to do what they did tonight.”

Madisonville’s playoff push ultimately came to an end in Fairfield Friday with a loss to Robinson in straight sets. The Rockets defeated the Lady Mustangs by scores of 25-18, 25-17 and 25-18.

Robinson used their size and power advantages to jump out to three early leads in each set and advance to the Regional Semifinals.

“(Robinson) is a great team, that are just solid all the way around,” said Hooten after the loss Friday. “They have a big block and hit the ball well, and we didn't block. For three years that is what I’ve been talking about: our blocking needs to improve. That is what killed us tonight, we just couldn't put the ball down on their side with the block or with the attack, we just didn't capitalize.”

Madisonville scratched and clawed to get within three-to-five points late in each set, but could never string together a rally long enough to work their way back down the stretch.

“I’m super excited that we did make it this far,” said Hooten. “I thought we could make it further, so obviously I am walking off the court not feeling complete. I don’t think you ever feel complete after a loss, but if you play to your best potential and you still lose, you can walk off and feel like you gave it all. I’m not feeling that right now and I know (the players) are not either. I know they are disappointed.”

Despite the loss, Hooten hailed her senior players and the legacy they left for the program moving forward. The team’s graduating seniors include Kia Moffett, Raegan Olvera, Grace Williamson, Sidnie Smith, Kourtney Fleck, Haley Fleck, Riley Pitcock, Brooke McKean and Taylor Barrett.

“We have gotten the town involved, we sold over 200 tickets to the game tonight,” said Hooten Friday. “People who probably have never paid attention to volleyball came out to support us and that is what they need to focus on: the legacy they’ve started and left. When people look at the banners and the trophies, they are going to remember this team, these nine seniors and what they did.”

Comments