NZ battles high-class opponents

Posted 8/25/20

The North Zulch volleyball team dropped pre-district matchups to Madisonville Aug. 18, Caldwell on Friday and Lexington and Splendora in a dual matchup Saturday. All four matchups for the 1A Lady Bulldogs came against 3A or 4A opponents.

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NZ battles high-class opponents

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The North Zulch volleyball team dropped pre-district matchups to Madisonville Aug. 18, Caldwell on Friday and Lexington and Splendora in a dual matchup Saturday. All four matchups for the 1A Lady Bulldogs came against 3A or 4A opponents.

“I feel like our schedule would be tough right now for a 3A or 4A team,” said head coach Melissa Padgett. “But I want the girls to be battle tested going into the playoffs, because we know who we are going to have to beat.”

All proceeds from the Aug. 18 matchup in Madisonville benefited the family of Lori O’Neal, an NZISD educator who suffered a seizure earlier this month and was unresponsive at the time of the game.

O’Neal awoke Friday night and has seen functional improvements.

“The doctors are thinking she may be released as early as Monday,” said Padgett. “God has blessed (the O’Neal family) and us so much.”

O’Neal’s daughter Avery O’Neal, a special needs student at NZISD, delivered a ceremonial opening serve to begin the contest.

“(Avery O’Neal) has a lot of extended family in Madisonville as well as people that play on that team,” said Padgett. “I feel like it was very uplifting for everybody because it just shows the kindness of the kids and how much everyone cares about a student with disabilities being a part of things and making them feel included. It was really heartwarming and uplifting, especially for her family, to see her be a part of the team like that.”

Lori O’Neal’s husband, Jim O’Neal, is currently a teacher and coach at NZISD and a former coach and teacher at MCISD. Her sister, Judi Delesandri, is a local volleyball official.

The Lady Bulldogs dropped the Aug. 18 matchup in Madisonville by scores of 18-25, 19-25 and 23-25.

“(Madisonville) is a really good passing team,” said Padgett. “A lot of their back row players are very consistent passers to their targets and that makes an offense easier. But we made a lot of mistakes and errors and we did not pass well. Our strength is passing, so that doesn't allow us to be who we are as a team.

“I was really hoping for a better game out of our kids (against Madisonville). I know they are 4A, but I just feel like we could have competed better.”

The Lady Bulldogs also battled a higher class of competition with losses to Caldwell Friday by scores of 17-25, 10-25 and 20-25, as well as in Saturday dual matchups against Lexington by scores of 21-25, 3-25, 18-25 and Splendora by scores of 16-25, 15-25 and 14-25.

“We just have not put a whole game together,” said Padgett. “I am not saying I necessarily expected wins out of those games, but I expected better. We came out and really competed early (against Caldwell). But even in our wins, I don’t think we have put it all together.”

North Zulch looked to rebound Tuesday against Groesbeck and will host KOR in a home matchup Friday. On Saturday, they will battle Grapeland and Latexo in a dual matchup.

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