Schulenburg ousts Edna from regional volleyball tournament
SAN ANTONIO - For the Schulenburg Lady Horns, another season brought about yet another run to the regional tournament.
The experience gained from two prior trips was evident on Friday.
Shannon Mikesky had 34 assists and India Connor led the way with 13 kills to help Schulenburg (33-9) sweep the Edna Cowgirls (27-8) at the Blossum Center.
"You can tell their experience played out, I think that was a big factor," said Lady Horn coach Donald Zapalec after the 25-10, 25-19 and 25-16 win.
Schlenburg advances to the Class 2A regional finals for the first time since 2007. The Lady Horns play either George West or Poth on Saturday at 1 p.m.
The loss ends Rachel Collins' first season as Cowgirls head coach, but the nine returning Cowgirls gained some experience that they can carry over next season and perhaps be on the other end of a regional tournament win.
"The bright spot, the thing keeping me alive and not falling apart, is we've won and we've had a perfect district season," Collins said.
Madison Kucera led the Cowgirls with 13 kills and Natasha Evans added 13 assists.
In order to beat Edna, Schulenburg knew it would have to defend Kucera well.
The Lady Horns defense was up to the task.
"We were really prepared for her so our blocks were ready and digs were just ready for her," Connor said. "We were prepared."
Schulenburg held Kucera to just two kills in the opening frame and cruised to a 25-8 win. Freshman outside hitter Bay Guentert clinched the Game 1 win with a spike and Kucera finished the game with six digs.
"I really wanted us to go out fighting, I wanted us to go out and play our best volleyball," Collins said. "I think if we had shown up playing our best volleyball, we'd still be playing tomorrow."
The Cowgirls adjusted and were more competitive in Game 2.
After splitting the first 10 points, a Kucera spike capped a 5-1 Edna run that gave it a 10-7 lead.
"They refocused, the started showing back up to the gym, they knew what it was going to take to win," said Collins about the Cowgirls.
The Lady Horns answered with a 8-4 run of their own as sophomore outside hitter Shannon Mikesky's spike from the right side gave Schulenburg a 25-8 win in Game 2.
There was a scary moment in the middle frame as Edna freshman setter Haleigh Evans left the game with a head injury. Collins said Haleigh was disoriented and taken to a local hospital.
During a dig attempt, Haleigh hit her head on the shin of a teammate and lay on the hardwood for the rest of the point.
Coach, trainers and older sister Natasha attended to Haleigh during a five-minute injury timeout with Schulenburg leading 17-14.
The injury forced Edna to switch to a 5-1 as Natasha along with Kucera were the only Cowgirls to record kills the rest of the game.
"I just found the hole because we knew they just had one blocker so I just found the hole," Connor said.
Junior libero Drew Ganem had six digs for the Cowgirls defensively. Sophomore defensive specialist Jade Bujonch added 11 digs for Schulenburg.
The Lady Horns won the first eight points of Game 3 and held back a Cowgirl rally to complete the sweep.
Friday marked the final time Edna senior defensive specialist Caroline Arrellano suited up for the Cowgirls.
Arrellano was one of three seniors on the team, but the only starter. She finished with five digs and two aces.
"We're going to miss Caroline like none other on the court," Collins said. "She plays great defense, but now it's time to fill that position. Start working our defensive people and fill that spot."