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Warriors earn spot in regional quarterfinals with win over Flour Bluff

By jhornberg
Nov. 6, 2010 at 6:06 a.m.

Bryanna Frazer, left, and Sara Hermes celebrate after scoring a point against Flour Bluff during Saturday's area round match at West gym. The Warriors won the match, 25-7, 25-14, 11-25, 25-16.

The serve flew low and it looked like, for a second, the ball would hit the net.

But it hit the top of the net. In a stroke of luck, it dropped over the net and onto the ground as the befuddled Flour Bluff players dove to try and save it.

Sara Hermes didn't do it on purpose, she said, but was happy with the result.

"That was pure accident," she said. "I didn't even mean to do it. I'm just glad it went over. Those things are kind of up to chance, you just kind of hope they go over."

Even more, it secured the second game for the Warriors, 25-14, in an extremely unexpected way.

Three times, the ball tipped the top of the net and fell over, twice by Hermes and once by Rachel Hamon.

Most teams don't expect to see a serve like that at all, let alone on game point, said Warriors coach Sandy Longoria.

"I think the ball just rolled our way today," she said. "We don't practice that, if it happens, it happens. ... Sara practices the short serve in practices, but I don't think she had for meant for that to happen."

And it was that kind of day for the Warriors, where bounces went their way for three of four games, and luck and skill stayed on their side in a 25-7, 25-14, 11-25, 25-16 victory over the Hornets in the area playoff game at the West gym.

The Warriors (34-5) will take on Mission Veterans Memorial in the regional quarterfinals next. While an official date, location and time have not been set, district athletic director Ralph Escalona said it would likely be Tuesday in Corpus Christi.

"I think any team would be nervous," Hermes said. "We were on such a high, but in the third game, we didn't do so well. But I think we composed ourselves really well, and we knew we had to play our game."

The Warriors cruised to wins in three of the games four sets, but with the match on the line, Flour Bluff mounted a comeback.

In the first two games, the Hornets had just three points off their serves. But at the start of the third game, Katie Thomas rallied for 10 straight points to give the Hornets a 11-1 lead.

It was one the Warriors couldn't overcome, and one Brooke Smith chalked up to nerves.

"It was a weird bump in the road," she said. "We just sucked it up and went on to play the next game."

Others were hard pressed to explain what happened.

"I don't know, they got a couple points on us and we got nervous," Hermes said. "They just kept getting more points, and before long they had a bunch."

Added Longoria: "I can't tell you what happened, I have no idea."

The Warriors were able to regroup in the fourth set, with strong play from Rachel Hamon, who added an ace and 10 kills in the match, and Jessica Mickey, who had 38 assists and collected match point on her serve.

"It felt great just knowing that we're going onto the next round," Smith said. "We just pushed ourselves to go through it."

The Warriors have been impressive this season. It isn't just the first season for the program, it's the first season on varsity for many of the players on this team.

"It means so much, its the first year ever, going to the playoffs is an amazing feeling," Smith said.

"I don't think, without her, we would have gotten this far," Hermes said. "We work a lot on visualizing a lot, and whenever we are in a panic situation, she calls a time out and just tells us to breathe."

The Warriors next opponent, though, is an unknown. Longoria said they haven't had a chance to scout Mission Veterans Memorial yet.

"We haven't seen them, we haven't scouted them, so we don't really know what to expect," Hermes said.

Smith isn't worried.

"I don't know, but we'll find out," she said. "We'll do our best."

Longoria said she intends to talk with the coach at Floresville, the team Veterans Memorial beat in the area round and a district opponent of West, to see if any new information can be gleaned.

She said she is sure that they are going to bring a scrappy defense to their regional quarterfinal matchup.

The Patriots struggled in the bi-district round against Tuloso-Midway, the fourth place team out of District 31-4A, going to five games before edging out the Cherokees in the final game. Flour Bluff was that district's runner up.

NOTES: The Warriors streak of consecutive games won came to an end in the third game Saturday at 36. West hadn't lost a game since its match against Sweeny on Sept. 17. ... West had a block party against the Hornets as well, with two players collecting more than five blocks. Smith led the way with nine, and Hamon had six.

VOLLEYBALL - AREA ROUND

Victoria West 3, Flour Bluff 1

WEST - 25 25 11 25

FLBF - 7 14 25 16

HIGHLIGHTS: (West) Kelsea Kalich 17 kills; Jessica Mickey 38 assists, 15 digs; Sara Hermes 11 digs, 3 aces; Rachel Hamon 6 blocks; Brooke Smith 9 blocks. RECORD: West 34-5.

NOTE: Victoria West plays Mission Veterans Memorial in regional quarterfinals in Corpus Christi next.

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