Lady Flyers win district tournament
The third tournament victory of the season may have been the sweetest for the St. Joseph volleyball team.
The Lady Flyers won the TAPPS District 3-4A tournament, and the district championship with a topsy-turvy victory over visiting Austin St. Dominic Savio on Saturday at the St. Joseph gym.
Fittingly, it was co-captain and emotional lynch pin Analise Ybarbo who ended the match, which finished 22-25, 25-18, 25-21, 22-25, 15-11, with a kill from her middle blocker position.
Despite losing the first game, despite having a decided size disadvantage, and despite losing to the Eagles on Sept. 20, there was no way the Lady Flyers (31-5, 8-1) were going to lose the tournament final.
"They weren't just going to beat us," said St. Joseph coach Allyson Griffin. "After the week we've had, they weren't winning."
As a result, the Lady Flyers assured themselves of playing at home in the area playoffs.
The match concluded an emotional rollercoaster of a week for St. Joseph.
On Oct. 13 the team was involved in a bus accident. The team did not practice much early in the week, defeated San Antonio Christian on Thursday night.
"We were pumped up the whole afternoon," said freshman Christine Janak, who finished with 12 digs and six kills. "It was because of the wreck and we were trying to win it for Grandpa."
"Grandpa" is Clint Parks, the man who was driving the bus that crashed. He was in the front row of the St. Joseph gym watching the Lady Flyers avenge a Sept. 20 sweep to the Eagles in Austin last month.
Savio won the first five points of the match, and appeared to be on its way to steamrolling another district opponent. However, St. Joseph responded with a five-point run of its own to tie the game, and show they are a different team.
Natalie Bales had a double-double with 12 digs and 45 assists. She added a trio of aces and five kills. Lindsey Still had 10 kills and senior Carly Boles added another 14 kills.
"I just think there was a little bit of a lack of focus," said Savio head coach Jeff Cooper. "That was the biggest thing,"
The Lady Flyers never led in Game 1, but they didn't make that mistake in the second game. With the game tied at 12, Janak produced a kill to give the Lady Flyers a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
St. Joseph tied to put the match away in the fourth game, leading 19-12 at one point.
However, the service of Cecelia Flores and the presence of junior Abigail Miksch in the middle of the Savio defense allowed the Eagles to stave off defeat.
Savio (28-13, 9-1) tied Game 4 21-21 when it forced St. Joseph into a poor pass in serve receive. The Eagles won four of the next five points to force the decisive game.
St. Joseph jumped out to a massive 12-3 lead in the final game. The Lady Flyers held on as Miksch and her teammates cut the deficit to three points.
Ybarbo's 18th kill of the match allowed the Lady Flyers to improve to 3-1 in five-game matches this year.
"It felt so good. I had tears in my eyes afterward," said junior Lauren Kurtz, who had 19 digs, nine kills, two blocks and an ace. "We've come so close. We're such a family now."