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Warriors make short work of Mustangs in playoff opener

Nov. 1, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Updated Nov. 2, 2011 at 6:02 a.m.

West senior middle blocker Brooke Smith, right, slaps hands with junior setter Blair Butschek, left, after the Warriors scored a point on Monday, November 1, 2011 at Victoria West High School.JONATHANHINDERLITER/JHINDERLITER@VICAD.COM

They stood arms akimbo looking in almost awe, amazed at the power that was coming their way.

Not only were Victoria West's volleyball players taller and stronger than the girls from San Antonio Jefferson, they hit far harder than anything the Mustangs have seen all year.

Try as they might, Jefferson could not continue to dig the punishing attacks, losing 25-14, 25-12, 25-11 to the Warriors in a Class 4A bi-district playoff match.

During the first game persistent hitting errors from West eroded any mysticism about its offense, which allowed Jefferson to cut the deficit to 14-13. With momentum incredulously swinging toward the visitors Kelsea Kalich and Brooke Smith took things into their hands, helping the Warriors win 11 of the next 12 points to close the game.

"We came in not knowing what to expect, since we haven't played them before," said West middle blocker Rachel Hamon. "We didn't play to our full potential. We were expecting something different once we started playing our game, we started playing better."

West volleyball coach Sandy Longoria said her staff counted nine hitting errors in the first game. After she called timeout with a 14-12 lead, West (34-6) allowed just two more points in the game. The first was a tip which was just wide, while the second was largely inconsequential because it cut the deficit to 21-14.

"It took us a few points to get our momentum," Longoria said. "Once we figured out where our hits were going to score, what their defense was, who their weak back row defender was, that is where we went. Initially, we had our fair share of errors."

Kalich finished with 14 kills, Smith had 13 and senior right-side hitter Jordan Fedorchak had 10 kills. Sara Hermes led the team with 13 digs, while fellow senior Kelly Fowler added 10.

The Warriors might be an offensive team, but Hamon and Smith combined for 10 blocks on the night.

Jefferson is not a team that plays above the net. Thus, it took West's blockers some time to adjust to the Mustangs not hitting the ball directly down. Jefferson's height prohibited it from killing the ball in the front row, and it routinely used topspin on their attacks to get the ball inside the court.

"We have not faced anything like that all year," said Jefferson volleyball coach Theresa Ralston. "I feel my girls stepped up to the challenge and played very well. . I think these girls needed to realize that we are all out here playing the same game. They needed that start to see they could compete on the floor with this team."

The Mustangs (14-21) won the first point of all three games, but could not take advantage of that early lead in the second or third games. A Fedorchak kill gave West a 2-1 lead in the second game, and the Warriors went on to win 10 of the next 12 points to pull away.

The third game was such a runaway that some reserves had a chance to take the court in a playoff setting. After using just seven players for the first two games, sophomore Ellen Hermes saw action at setter, while Carly Boles and Bryana Frazer entered the contest.

"It was really exciting," Fedorchak said. "Since it was our first playoff game we didn't know what to expect with the crowd. It was nice to have a full crowd rooting us on."

Fedorchak said it would be a momentous accomplishment if her team could qualify for the state tournament later this month. However, the Warriors are taking it one match at a time.

West will play Corpus Christi Ray Friday in the Class 4A area playoffs. Longoria said the match will be Friday at 7 p.m., at a site to be determined.

Tuesday, was simply another step, albeit more forceful than their opponents anticipated, toward meeting the Warriors lofty expectations.

"We understand that when we do what we need to do, we are going to beat people," Longoria said. "We have had a pretty good week of practice. We showed areas of improvement, and I'm pleased with that. When we play loose, we are better. We are more energetic and more efficient."

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