Volleyball into the next Chapter

Volleyball looks to make a deep playoff push

Volleyball+wins+a+against+Clemens

Tim Tschoepe

Volleyball wins a against Clemens

Tim Tschoepe, Sports Editor

Volleyball won district, but that was the last chapter. Now there is a new chapter. One that will bring out the best in its competitors. The next chapter is titled “Playoffs.” 

The volleyball team ended on an extremely high note, beating the Steele Knights to become undefeated district champs and reach the playoffs. After not making the playoffs last year, they are eager to get their playoff run started. The first round match up will be on Friday at 7:00 against the Madison Mavericks at Canyon High School.  

“Madison is a feisty team, they were down by a decent amount against Brandeis and battled back which shows me that they are confident in their abilities,” head volleyball coach Courtney Patton said. Madison is 13-5 on the season with losses to Reagan, Clark, and Brandeis. With that being said, Smithson Valley is 17-2 on the season with losses coming early in the season to Dripping Springs and Austin Westlake. Both teams’ records are about equal so this game will be fun to watch. The Mavericks have an explosive outside hitter named Shavonne Respondek, and two consistent setters as well. In response to the way the Mavericks play, the team has altered the way they have conducted practices. “We spent some time doing defense versus an outside hitter because of Shavonne Respondek,” Patton said. “We’ve done a lot of blocking because we will need to shut down their outsides and being productive out of defense has been a focus.” 

With this being a very weird year, the volleyball team was unsure if they would even have a season at the end of the summer. The schedule was cut short due to  COVID-19. The team worked with the situation and came out prepared and closer as a team. “What we were able to do during the Coronavirus break was more of a team building thing for us,” Patton said. “We had different groups and the leader of each group checked in on kids to make sure they were doing the workouts.” During the Coronavirus, the players had to workout by themselves and practice volleyball without the coaches and their teammates. “We made sure to keep each other accountable for their workouts,” said Hailey Hayes.

Going into the playoffs, the team is undefeated in district and saw increases in their abilities on the court as district play went on. “The summer strength and conditioning helped us extremely and the fact that we are undefeated comes down to the girls ability to fight and their confidence has taken them a long way,” Coach Patton said. 

Going into the playoffs, the team is looking to keep the attitude from the regular season into the playoffs. “Going into the playoffs we need to focus on staying consistent,” Naomi Ortiz said. The team is very vocal in their games so they will try to keep up their intensity for the game on Friday.

Look for key contributions from Naomi Ortiz and Bekah Williams, along with the Jaci Mesa. “I think that in my mind, I knew that Naomi has the potential to be really strong for us, I didn’t realize how much of a leader she would be and how much of a terminator she would be” Patton said. “She’s been a key contributor for us on the back row and on the front row.” 

Sophomore Bekah Williams is one of the vocal leaders on the floor and has been all year. “Bekah creates a spark of energy when she’s on the court, her blocking has been really critical in big moments and that creates a lot of energy for us,” Patton said.  

Consistency is going to be key in this match because the Rangers have never seen Madison before. They will need to have the leadership of the seniors and the starters to help keep the energy up and to transfer the confidence from the regular season into the  playoffs. “We’ve had some good, strong leadership in close match ups. In both New Braunfels games we were down and it came down to leadership” Patton said.

There has been a number of players that have stepped up to fill the leadership roles as the season has gone on. We’ve seen the rise of Naomi Ortiz, the strong spikes from both Esther Du’Glas, as well as the high energy of Bekah Williams. “I think that in my mind, i knew that Naomi has the potential to be really strong for us, I didn’t realize how much of a leader she would be and how much of a terminator she would be, Patton said. “She’s been a key contributor for us on the back row and on the front row for us. Bekah creates a spark of energy when she’s on the court. Her blocking has been really critical in big moments and that creates a lot of energy for us.” 

All in all, the team is in a very good position. They have players that have stepped up as leaders, players that believed in the team, and trusted in their abilities that have gotten them to where they are. “My biggest task for the girls is to believe that they are capable of winning big matches and show them that they have already done it and for them to continue to be confident,” Patton said. “This group didn’t make the playoffs last year so I feel like they have something to prove and I think that will be on our side.”

As for the game tonight, the team will need to have a clean game.“I think the middle will have to have a strong night, Bekah and Naomi will have to play well, and the setters need to be pretty consistent,” Patton said. “I am excited to see the girls get this opportunity. They have worked very hard to get where they are and I’m excited to watch them have the opportunity to showcase their hard work through the playoffs.”

Their hard work will be on display tonight and with all the chaos with the virus, all the uncertainty, and all the preparation, it all comes down to this. One night. Two teams. And the dreams of an entire team on display under the lights at Canyon High School. There is no doubt in my mind that this team will give it their all.