St. Joseph volleyball wins emotional game over S.A. Christian
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It's not about individuals. They know that.
But, for the St. Joseph volleyball team, it was sure nice to take the court again, to play for each other again and to win again.
The Lady Flyers did all three in an emotional 25-22, 25-21, 22-25, 25-19 victory over visiting San Antonio Christian.
Thursday's TAPPS District 3-4A tournament match was the first time St. Joseph took the court since an Oct. 13 bus crash where the white team bus flipped over a few miles south of Gonzales.
"I told myself to pick everyone up, play my best, play my hardest, play my heart out for everyone and for God," said Flyers co-captain Analise Ybarbo. "And for that man who saved our lives. We just put it all out there for him."
She pointed as she said the last two sentences in the vicinity of where Clint Parks was seated in a car.
Moments earlier, the entire team presented Parks, who was driving the bus the Lady Flyers were riding in Saturday, with a box filled with gifts, oatmeal raisin cookies and other things in order to cheer his spirits.
Ybarbo had 17 blocks on the night, in addition to 10 kills and an ace. She was also one of the team's mental leaders.
In Game 4 a Lady Flyers lead was whittled to 14-13 after a pair of St. Joseph errors. Ybarbo patted Carly Boles on the back and told her things would be OK.
After that conversation at the net between the two seniors, the Lady Flyers went on to win eight of the next nine points. Boles served for four of those points and provided an ace to give St. Joseph a 22-14 lead.
Boles led St. Joseph with 11 kills. The senior outside hitter had two blocks and two aces. Lauren Kurtz also had a double-double for St. Joseph as well with 10 kills, 10 digs, four blocks and an ace.
"Knowing that we have each other's back," Ybarbo said has been the key to this season. "We're always there for each other, knowing that the other person will pick (someone) up. Knowing that you have control of your own feelings and picking yourself is a mental game. We know the ability we have to play volleyball is special."
That mental element may have also extended across the net. San Antonio Christian made a number of serving errors at key points in the match.
San Antonio Christian (18-15-2, 7-3) made serving errors with an early lead in Game 1, which allowed St. Joseph to remain within striking distance. In Game 2, Lions serving errors gave the Lady Flyers a 7-6 lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Head coach Beth Marmion said serving is a matter of confidence.
"We performed better than we did the first time," Marmion said. "We didn't play our game. St. Joseph played a great game. They did an amazing job of scrapping and hustling."
San Antonio Christian's Bryanna Wynn led all players with 12 kills and two aces in the loss.
Throughout the season, the Lady Flyers (30-5, 7-1) said their chemistry has been one of the strengths of the 2012 team. Ybarbo, and others, said this team has become closer since the accident.
Thursday's win was a collective effort, from the usual suspects, and some new ones as well.
Sophomore Lauren Williams entered the lineup for senior Kalyn Hempel as the Lady Flyers defensive specialist and had arguably the best match of her career with 11 digs.
"It was very nerve racking," Williams said about seeing so much playing time in her third varsity match. "But, I calmed down and acted like I was on the JV and acted like it was my floor."
Afterward, the Lions presented each member of the St. Joseph volleyball team with a yellow daisy and a card. Marmion said it was a way to let the Lady Flyers know that her team has been thinking about them and wishing them well.
St. Joseph volleyball coach Allyson Griffin clearly appreciated the gesture of the visitors, saying Christian was a class act and a class program for their prayers and understanding. Griffin added Thursday's opponents played far better than they did when the Lady Flyers swept them in the middle of September.
St. Joseph advances to play the winner of Austin St. Dominic Savio (27-12, 8-0) and Austin Regents (13-25-2, 6-3) Saturday at a place and time to be determined. The Flyers swept Regents Oct. 9, but lost to Savio in Austin on Sept. 20.
A victory Saturday would mean the Lady Flyers win the district title.
"We're so blessed to be able to play," said sophomore middle blocker Lindsey Still. "To win is even better. It makes us so much stronger."