Sports and Outdoors
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Normal Lake Level is 322.00 feet above Mean Sea
another playoff run
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer
EUSTACEWith four returning starters from last years 3A regional quarterfinals team, its understandable that veteran Eustace head coach Chuck Powers might already be looking ahead to post-season play.
After all, Powers program (now in its 38th year) produced back-to-back regional quarterfinalists teams in the last two years, each of whom posted 10-0 district records, and theres no one in the new District 6-2A who can match that except Jewett Leon.
Now 19-6 on the season after Tuesday nights wins over Westwood and Mabank (see related story, page 3B), the Lady Bulldogs will be opening 6-2A play at home against the Mildred Lady Eagles Tuesday, Sept. 14.
(Technically, Eustace opened district play Friday night with a first-round bye.)
Go ahead and circle Friday, Oct. 1, on the calender. None of the local football teams will be playing that night, but Eustace will host Leon in the first-round finale, with a second-round trip to Jewett scheduled Tuesday, Oct. 26.
The Leon Lady Cougars of District 11-2A also advanced to the regional quarterfinals last year, have everybody back from that team, and are currently ranked third in the state.
They are No. 3, and deservedly so theyre for real, Powers said. They have such a tradition down there. Their coach is the son of the man who coached their mothers (Powers is now coaching the grandchildren of some of his early players).
They have a strong club program down there, and their kids play club ball year-round, he added. They play well together, and they have a couple of good-sized girls.
I think if anybody in this district could match up with them, it would be us, Powers said.
The potential is there for a home-and-home split, forcing a third-game playoff for the district championship (a sweep by either team seems unlikely), and there might be a fourth meeting down the road at the regional tournament. All of that is possible, if the Lady Bulldogs can stay healthy and continue playing as a unit.
One of our strengths in every match, win, lose or draw weve done it as a unit, and not six individuals, Powers said.
Thats something I preach all the time, he added. Some groups buy into it better than others, and for this group, thats a strength.
Only two girls were lost from last years playoff team, but they were good ones district MVP Jenny McConathy (now on Trinity Valley Community Colleges first volleyball team) and the districts top setter, Kim Austin Barnett (now attending Dallas Baptist College).
However, the Lady Bulldogs also have back two multi-sport standout athletes junior Catania Grant (last years Newcomer of the Year) and senior Allie Cass.
Also back are seniors Vanessa Lopez and Harmony Allen, along with senior Shelley Temple, who was a regular sub last year.
They are joined by junior Shelby Stegent and a trio of sophomores, Bethany Strickland, Kacie Richardson and Mallory Keeling.
Those returners have been tremendous leaders to set the stage for where were at now, Powers said.
Catania is stronger than she was last year. Shes playing hurt (a nagging shoulder injury), but shes better now, hurt, than she was last year at 100 percent, he said.
Allie, I think, has worked her way into the second most-rounded volleyball player Ive ever been blessed to coach, Powers said, comparing Cass to now-departed multi-sport standout Alyson Harlan.
She and Alyson both have a complete game they hit well, pass well and serve well and they both have a true love of the game, he said.
Shelley is really our knight in shining armor, Powers said. Shes worked so hard, and now shes got a little vertical and strength, which makes her a legitimate threat.
Of all the kids Ive been blessed to coach, (Shelley) is one of the top two or three who gets all she has out of her body. Vanessa is like Shelley, he added. She gets everything out of her body, and shes able to make things happen.
Another multi-sport athlete, Allen, has been having medical issues for a year, limiting her playing time.
A number of visits to specialists has not determined what is causing her to abruptly tire, suffer dizzy spells and (on occasion) pass out.
The time or two that its happened, it was a scary deal, Powers said.
Those five players are probably the best goal-setters, as a group, that Ive ever had, he said.
Its probably no secret that Eustace and Leon are the top level of 6-2A, and its likely that everyone else will be playing for the third-place playoff spot.
I expect Malakoff to come in third, from what Ive seen and heard, Powers said. I like what Coach Neal is doing over there.
Buffalo, Mildred and Malakoff all have new coaches, so the status quo could change, he added.
Eustace beats Mabank, Westwood
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