By TONY EIERDAM
Beginning this school year, the top four teams in each district in Class 3A qualify for the volleyball playoffs.
Although the Mineral Wells Lady Rams have slipped to 3-5 in District 6-3A, the team still needs just one win to clinch at least a tie for fourth place and the final playoff spot.
That win should come Friday when MWHS hosts winless Diamond Hill, a team it swept during the first half of district play and a team that has just won two games during its eight district matches.
But fourth place is not a rosy picture for the District 6-3A representative as it will face likely District 5-3A winner Iowa Park, ranked No. 11 in the state.
To put Iowa Park’s ranking in perspective note that 6-3A’s top team, Springtown – a team that has swept the Lady Rams twice and dropped only one district game in eight matches – is ranked No. 14.
Iowa Park would also be seeking revenge against the Lady Rams, who eliminated the Lady Hawks last year in the opening round of the playoffs.
Although the goal is to make the playoffs, the Lady Rams also have their eye on a bigger prize, third place. That can be achieved by no stretch of the imagination.
For the Lady Rams to finish tied for third they will first have to defeat Diamond Hill at home on Friday and win in the district finale Tuesday at Castleberry, a team MWHS swept in the first half of district play.
But even with the two wins to conclude district play MWHS will need help and hope that Lake Worth (4-4) finishes 1-1 to end district play. Lake Worth travels to Springtown on Friday and ends its district season on Tuesday at home against Diamond Hill.
If the Lady Rams go 2-0 to finish district and Lake Worth splits its last two matches the two teams would meet up at the end of next week and play a third-place tiebreaker match.
Despite the fact that the latter scenario will could easily, and likely, play out, Lady Rams head coach Taylor Eggleston said she and her team can not afford to focus on anything but Friday’s match against Diamond Hill, which will begin at 5 p.m. Friday at the MWHS gym.
“No question, we have to take care of business on Friday,” Eggleston said. “We win on Friday, and assuming Lake Worth loses to Springtown and Castleberry (2-6) loses to Kennedale, we will clinch a playoff spot and set ourselves up for a chance to tie for third and get into that tiebreaker.
“But the bottom line is we have to win one more time to make the playoffs.”
Eggleston still is hoping to get that third-place tiebreaker game.
“Iowa Park is much better than last year,” she said. “And we hope to get that opportunity for a third-place tiebreaker match.
“But honestly, we can’t think past Diamond Hill on Friday, so if we take care of business then we will be able to look ahead. Winning on Friday and hopefully securing a playoff spot is a much bigger deal at this moment.”
In other 6-3A action on Friday, Castleberry will face Kennedale and Lake Worth will play Springtown.