By Tony Adams
The Belton Lady Tigers volleyball team had its final pre-district tune-up Tuesday night against Marble Falls at Tiger Gym.
Although it was a straight-set victory for Belton with scores of 25-22, 25-20 and 25-23, it’s not one that sat well with Belton head coach Stacy Meyers, following two lackluster losses in the Hays Consolidated Rebel Bash last weekend. The Lady Tigers travel into the 2013 District 8-5A journey 15-8 on the season.
The Lady Mustangs jumped out to a 10-5 lead in the first set. Behind the serving of Kinsey Williams and McKinzee Robinson, the Lady Tigers sling-shotted themselves in front 18-14. Marble Falls worked their way back into the set to 23-22. But back-to-back kills by Monica Gonzalez and Brieanne Brown gave the Lady Tigers the first set.
Belton never trailed in the second set, although the Lady Mustangs kept the score close. The Lady Tigers jumped out to another 10-5 lead. Marble Falls went on a 6-1 run to tie the set at 11. Robinson, Brown and Gonzalez worked the lead back out to five points before Allison Waits’ kill secured the second set.
The Lady Tigers struggled to get a foothold in the third set, as the both teams split the first 20 points. Belton’s Abby Morgan, making her first home appearance on the varsity squad, served three consecutive points to give Belton the lead a 13-11. Marble Falls then went on a 7-4 run to grab an 18-17 lead. Gonzalez and Brown again came to the forefront with kills to tie the game at 20. The game seesawed and Marble Falls grabbed a 23-22 lead. The Lady Tigers scored the final three points to end the game and the match.
During the Hays Consolidated Rebel Bash Volleyball Tournament last weekend, Belton went 2-0 in the day one pool, lost a pivotal match to West that relegated the team to the Flight Pool instead of Gold Pool, won a great match against Akins and then bowed out against Poth to round out the weekend 4-2. As was the case Tuesday night, Meyers and the Belton coaching staff were not pleased with the score despite winning. But the staff is very positive and are still waiting for that signature performance out of their teams. Not only on the varsity level, but on the junior varsity and freshman levels as well.
“The girls know what is expected of them,” said Meyers. “It’s a matter of consistency. There are matches where it looks like it’s altogether. And then the next game, it looks like a totally different team. It will turn around.”
“As a group, we all go through our ups and downs,” said Belton junior varsity coach and varsity assistant coach Jordan Petter, before the junior varsity’s 25-9 and 25-16 win over Marble Falls. “We all have encouraging moments and then we have our discouraging moments. They know how important Friday is to start off district. I’m sure that they’ll show up and play like they know how to play.”
“There’s a big learning curve with the freshman kids,” said Belton freshman coach and varsity assistant coach Dorothy Payne, prior to the freshman winning 25-11 and 25-21 over Marble Falls. “They learn how to do things in practice and they want to do it in games, but they don’t want to make a mistake. They come from different schools. They may have been good on the team that they were on in middle school. All of a sudden, they are playing with other kids that are good as well. Sometimes they panic because they are not sure of their skills yet. But it’s definitely a learning curve.”
As far as district is concerned, Copperas Cove still looks strong, returning Qiana Canete, the reigning District 8-5A Most Valuable Player.
“Cove will be strong,” said Meyers. “They have the reigning MVP and she’s a phenomenal athlete. They will definitely be a favorite. I believe there will be a group of teams that will beat each other,” said Meyers. “Every game is really going to matter to some teams.”
“Midway is talented,” said varsity assistant coach Whitney Landers. “They’re very young and they have height.”
“They’re very young in their play,” added Meyers. “Even though they are a varsity team, they have youth. Height is a big key. Midway has three, six-footers and Shoemaker has height. Everyone in district has height except us. That’s why we work so hard in other areas.”
The defensive game is paramount with the lack of height, which makes the roles of the backline, anchored by Williams in the libero position, so vital.
“We have to be a defensive team,” said Meyers. “We have to be. We received a great compliment from one of the parents in China Spring who said how much fun it was to watch such a disciplined team, with our discipline on defense. We play more of the thinking game than physical game.”
The Lady Tigers will take on the Killeen Shoemaker Lady Grey Wolves at Tiger Gym Friday. The freshman and junior varsity teams play at 5 p.m. The varsity plays at 6:30 p.m.