Mineral Wells Index
By TONY EIERDAM
After falling to Kennedale on Friday in the District 6-3A volleyball opener and with a date on Oct. 4 with state-ranked Springtown, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams knew they had to defeat Lake Worth Tuesday night in a 6-3A match at the MWHS gym.
The top four teams in each district qualify for the playoffs, but fourth-place teams will have to square off with district champions in the first round of postseason play. Finishing in third place or above is much more desirable for teams wanting to make it out of the first round.
Lady Rams head coach Taylor Eggleston put the cards on the table in front of the Lady Rams, and the team responded with a 13-25, 28-26, 25-21, 25-18 comeback victory which evens their district mark at 1-1.
MWHS will continue district play at 5 p.m. Friday at No. 14 Springtown.
“I am extremely proud of the girls,” Eggleston said. “We were talking (at practice Monday) about our goal of making the playoffs.
“We are taking it one match at a time, but I also laid out an overall scenario on what they needed to do to make the playoffs.
“They knew (Tuesday’s) match was important in our quest to achieve our goal. We talked about finishing matches, and it took a total team effort to win.
“Everybody played and contributed whether it was playing all the way around or just getting in one game.
“But each and every girl contributed with whatever role they were playing. I think this win was the true definition of team effort.”
Eggleston made a huge change just before district play began, moving all-district, first-team libero Bethany Allen to hitter. Allen, who now plays all the way around and never leaves the court, has thrived in her new starting spot.
Allen was aggressive at the net and recorded a team-high nine kills, one kill ahead of outside hitter Brittany Guill, who finished with eight stoppers.
Senior setter Erin Burgeson fed Allen at key moments, including the match-winning point on a blast from the left side.
“When we needed a point Erin was feeding BB (Allen),” Eggleston said. “I told Erin that BB is out there swinging hard so try and set her. We wanted BB to swing away.
“BB competed against a girl who is taller than her, but BB competes and she won most of those battles. It is a true testament to the athlete that she is.”
One area the Lady Rams continue to excel is serving. Eggleston was pleased with all of her players at the service line, especially after a rough beginning.
“We had serving problems early but we fixed it,” she said. “We saw after game one that they were not as strong as we are on serve receive, so we capitalized on that.”
Lake Worth used 10-2 run in the middle of the opening game to pave its way to a 12-point win. MWHS led 1-0 but never enjoyed a lead after the first rally.
In game two, Lake Worth led 15-10 before the Lady Rams got it in gear. A kill each from Allen and Guill – both after pinpoint feeds from Burgeson – cut the Lady Frogs’ lead to three.
Lake Worth maintained a three-point cushion, 23-20, before Burgeson set up Allen from the left side for a kill that cut the lead to two points.
On the next rally, MWHS was charged with a net violation, and Lake Worth was just one point away from taking a 2-0 lead in games in the best-of-five match.
The Lady Rams caught a break when Lake Worth’s ensuing serve sailed wide and out of bounds.
MWHS tied the game at 24-24 after consecutive kills by the determined Allen. Both kills were set up by cross-court feeds from Burgeson.
Lake Worth took the next point and again was a point away (games must be won by at least two points) from taking a 2-0 lead in games, but a huge defensive effort saved the game – and possibly the match – for the Lady Rams.
Defensive specialist Kaleigh Aaron kept the ensuing rally alive with a face-first dig, and MWHS tied the match on a Lake Worth return error.
However, the Lady Frogs scored the next point courtesy of a MWHS service error and once again was a point away from taking a 2-0 lead.
But the Lady Rams came up with another defensive gem as Sydney Vasquez dug a ball to keep the rally alive, and Riley Bullock tied the game at 26-26 with a back-row kill.
Bullock then went to the service line, and her consecutive aggressive serves forced Lake Worth into a pair of return errors as MWHS tied the match at 1-1 with a critical win.
The Lady Rams jumped out to an 8-1 lead in game three, but tenacious Lake Worth went on an 18-13 run to cut the Lady Rams’ lead to 21-19.
A Lake Worth return error followed by an ace from Guill extended the lead to 23-19, and the game ended on a kill from Caroline Clarke as MWHS took a 2-1 lead in games.
Lake Worth led 12-11 in game four before an ace by Bre Hinojos, a kill from Guill and three LWHS return errors gave the Lady Rams a 16-13 advantage.
MWHS brought game four to match point thanks in part to a pair of kills each from Clarke and Maxi Schultz, and sealed the match when Burgeson found Allen for the math-winning spike.
“I told the girls after the match,” Eggleston said, “that I could not be more proud, and that it is so nice to win.
“Winning is so much fun.”