By Erik Walsh
Monitor Staff Writer
CEDER CREEK LAKE – November is here and that means lake-area volleyball teams are surging into the playoffs.
The Eustace Lady Bulldogs are leading the charge and the Mabank Lady Panthers are right behind them.
Kemps’ fate is yet to be determined at press time. The Lady Yellowjackets battle Scurry-Rosser for a winner-takes-all bout for the fourth and final playoff spot in District 13-2A Nov. 1 in Kaufman.
Eustace clinched first place in District 13-2A last week when they defeated Scurry-Rosser three games to none. The Lady Bulldogs completed an outstanding regular season, finishing with an overall record of 31-6 and 15-1 in district play.
Eustace remained undefeated in district until the last match of the season against Palmer, dropping the contest three games to one. The first two games were very close as Palmer won both matches 25-23. Eustace came back strong in game three, winning 25-13, but finally went home after a 25-18 loss in game four.
Eustace head coach Chuck Powers thought the loss might be just what his team needed.
“We played a good team, they are very formidable,” Powers said. “They have really grown and matured over the course of district play and the girls went in overconfident because they had already beat them earlier in the year. It was a good wake up call.”
It hasn’t been an easy road for Eustace. Powers said that the district schedule is long (16 games) and Eustace has had a target on their backs because of their undefeated record all season.
“District play is a long mental drain,” he said. “We’ve been in this pressure situation for a long time, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Eustace needs to be playing their best volleyball right now because the playoffs begin November 4 at 6 p.m. when they face-off against Edgewood at the neutral site of Wills Point High School. Powers is locked in and ready to prepare his team to play to the high potential of which he thinks they are capable.
“I’ve known coach David in Edgewood for a long time. They always have a good team, but we got some kids that can play this game very well and we expect to go deep in the playoffs this year. My expectations are very high,” Powers said.
Moving forward, the road will continue to be a tough one for the Lady Bulldogs. Powers believes the 2A region is exceedingly strong this year.
“Our region this year is as strong as any region I have ever seen in 2A, he said. “We have the current state champs here, as well as a multitude of depth from other districts. The competition is going to be outstanding.”
Meanwhile just 10 minutes west down Highway 175 is another good volleyball team, The Mabank Lady Panthers, are back in the playoffs. Their rebound performance this year has built them a strong case as the most improved volleyball team in District 15-3A.
Last season Mabank never got things going and finished tied for last place in the district. This year, head coach Stacy Shelton elevated into contention with a 27-12 record, including a 7-3 mark in district play. The Lady Panthers begin their journey into the playoffs at 7 p.m. Nov. 5 at Whitehouse High School against the Henderson Lions.
“These girls have exceeded my expectations by far,” Shelton said. “They are doing very well, improving every game. I think we have a very good chance to beat Henderson if we play like I know we can. We have the talent and drive to advance to area.”
Mabank completed their regular season Oct. 29 with a decisive win over the Brownsboro Lady Bears in three games 25-16, 25-18 and 25-14.
Shelton had plenty of positive things to say about the Lady Panthers and their parents.
“The girls played great,” she said. “It was a total team effort. We dedicated the match to all of the parents for all they do! We had a great hitting match from all of our front-line hitters. Defense was awesome by every player.”
Mikayla Adams led the way for Mabank with 12 kills, two blocks and four digs. Bailey Swain added seven kills, four blocks and 15 digs. Madison Holyfield had five kills and three digs, while Meagan Holyfield play well all around with two kills, two blocks, five digs and 30 assists.
The Kemp Lady Yellowjackets finished the season with a 10-6 record, tied for fourth place in District 13-2A with Scurry-Rosser. The two teams face each other in a winner-takes-all match Nov.1 at Kaufman High School.
If the Lady Yellowjackets defeat Scurry-Rosser they will move on to the Bi- District round Monday or Tuesday against Quitman.
Coach Liz Henning is optimistic and excited.
“We are doing great right now,” she said. “We match up well against the Wildcats. We played them three times already this season and defeated them twice. It’s an even match up but the girls are ready to go.”
Henning said that Kemp is focused. “We want to play volleyball in November,” she added.