Five things to watch for at Victoria volleyball playoff doubleheader

Lady Warriors win 3-0 over Calhoun Sandcrabs during the their contest Tuesday night at Victoria West High School gym. MARIE DE JESUS/MDEJESUS@VICAD.COM

Victoria East and West volleyball open up their playoff runs together Tuesday night in Gonzales.

One will get a team that was a no-doubt playoff team, closing out the season third. The other will get a team that opened the season with an atrocious record and rallied with a strong showing in the district season to barely make the playoffs on the final day.

Here are five things to watch at Tuesday's volleyball bi-district doubleheader for Victoria East and Victoria West:

NO. 1: TALL TALES FOR VICTORIA WEST

Victoria West has made good use of its height this season. Junior Brooke Smith was second in the Crossroads area with 132 blocks, and Rachel Hamon not far behind with 102. The Warriors have players up and down the district leaderboard in kills also, with Smith and Kelsea Kalich tops with 274 and 273 respectively.

Also look for Jessica Mickey to collect her usual 30 or more assists. The team's lone senior is second in the area in assists with 957, with only Cuero's Victoria Wiesman ahead of her.

The Warriors can't downplay San Antonio Brackenridge, which could be easy to do, considering its record. The Eagles, though, came on strong late in the season and are surging at the right time.

NO. 2: EAST'S POTENT COMBINATION

Victoria East has a lot of talented players, but the combination of Kara Frederick and Tabby Zella has proven to work time and time again. Zella is seventh in the area in assists with 486, while Frederick is seventh in the area in kills with 294. Morgan Lienemann added 177 kills for the Titans, who will look to take advantage of that skill. What the Titans need to watch out for is, surprisingly, themselves. Victoria East has struggled at times in the face of adversity. Although they've largely come out on top, they will need to stay calm if their first-round opponent, San Antonio Jefferson, makes things interesting.

NO. 3: SQUEAKING BY

The Warriors' first-round opponent, Brackenridge, squeaked into the playoffs by knocking off the district's second place team, San Antonio Burbank, on the final day of the season to finish 10-6 in District 29-4A and earn a playoff spot over San Antonio Southside. The Eagles were a mediocre 3-16 in their non-district season, struggling in tournaments and against TAPPS teams left and right. While this may be a team that has solved their issues from the start of the season - something the Warriors know a little bit about - a decent indicator may be the 2-0 tournament loss to Floresville back in August. The Jaguars are in the playoffs, but were a mere speed bump in both East and West's playoff drives.

NO. 4: SOLIDLY IN

San Antonio Jefferson didn't have to fight to get into the playoffs, although it did spoil Southside's hopes with a win in the second to last match. The Mustangs were 11-5 in district play, led by Marina Tello (278 kills) and Samantha Salinas (203 kills). Nikki Perez had 393 assists for Jefferson, which also has a non-district match against Floresville under its belt - a 3-0 loss back in mid-August.

NO. 5: THE FUTURE?

The soonest Victoria East could run into powerhouse Austin Lake Travis is the regional semifinals, a lucky break for just about any team. That doesn't mean that the Titans should be taking their likely second-round opponent, Calallen, lightly. They didn't play during the regular season, but there may be something that the Titans can pick up from their crosstown rival, who played at beat the Wildcats 3-1 in mid-September. The Warriors have seen, and beaten, their likely second round opponent, Flour Bluff. In that matchup, Smith and Rachel Hamon each had 12 blocks and Mickey added 42 assists to the mix.

John Hornberg covers Victoria East and West for the Victoria Advo cate. Contact him by e-mail at jhornberg@vi cad.com, or comment on this column at Ad voSports.com.