NZHS, MHS play for greater meaning

Posted 8/18/20

The North Zulch volleyball team opened their season with a loss to Franklin and a pair of victories over Navasota before traveling to MHS Tuesday for a matchup with the Lady Mustangs, a game that carried more implications than the final score.

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NZHS, MHS play for greater meaning

Posted

The North Zulch volleyball team opened their season with a loss to Franklin and a pair of victories over Navasota before traveling to MHS Tuesday for a matchup with the Lady Mustangs, a game that carried more implications than the final score.

Earlier this month, NZISD educator Lori O’Neal suffered a seizure and is currently hospitalized. O’Neal was unresponsive at the time of this writing, but family members did post encouraging updates on Facebook regarding her condition Monday.

“It will be an emotional night for the community,” said NZISD head volleyball coach Melissa Padgett before Tuesday’s game. “The game is dedicated to (the O’Neal family) and proceeds will go to their extra expenses.”

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.

“It is about the community coming together to show support for a fellow coach and one of our staff and family members,” said Padgett. “Obviously we want to win, but at the end of the day it is more about family and praying for Ms. O’Neal to get better. Our kids, that is their teacher and they went to school with her kids. They are having a tough time.”

365 fans were permitted to enter Tuesday’s game for each school. The admission price was $5 with proceeds benefiting the O’Neal family.

The Lady Bulldogs opened their regular season Aug. 11 with a loss in Franklin in four sets by scores of 16-25, 25-18, 18-25 and 23-25. They were originally scheduled to battle Navasota and Somerville in a Saturday dual match, but instead played the Rattlers twice.

The Lady Bulldogs picked up a pair of victories Saturday by scores of 25-21, 25-16 and 25-23 in the first game and 16-25, 25-22, 25-23 and 25-18 in the second.

“We are small and we know that we are going to come across a lot of teams that are bigger than us,” said Padgett. “(Franklin and Navasota) were both bigger than us. The reality of it is that we are going to have to be smarter than most of the teams we play.”

The Lady Bulldogs have also upped the aggression in their serving game as a way to compensate for their small size. Padgett was pleased with the amount of aces she saw in the opening week but knows they will still have to cut down on their misses.

“We have to be very smart with our placement and touches,” said Padgett. “When you serve extremely aggressive, and you are serving to a spot, a lot of times that ups the opportunity for error. We need to get the missed serves down to be at least a third less than the aces.”

The Lady Bulldogs recorded six aces and 10 missed serves against Franklin, 10 and 10 in the first matchup against Navasota and 11 aces and 10 missed serves in the second.

North Zulch will host Caldwell at NZHS Friday in their first home contest before competing in a dual matchup against Lexington and Splendora in Lexington Saturday.

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