West volleyball gets best of East

From left, Victoria West's Ellen Hermes, Michelle Rendon and Shelby Spradley celebrate a point during the second game of Tuesday night's match between the Warriors and the Titans.

Maybe the fans were right, when it comes to volleyball West is best.

Tuesday night, the Victoria West volleyball team once again beat Victoria East, winning bty a score of 25-12, 24-26, 25-19, 25-16.

The Warriors (24-5, 4-0) have not lost a district match since the school opened in 2010. That includes a quintet of victories over their rivals from across town.

"It was the most (amazing) feeling. They gave us an amazing run," said West senior middle hitter Rachel Hamon, who had 10 kills and five blocks. "I'm proud of them. But I'm also proud of my girls. We gave it our all. I don't think we have any regrets tonight."

Morgan Lienemann had 21 kills and 18 digs in a losing effort for East. She led all players in both departments.

East (16-10, 2-2) couldn't maintain an early lead in the fourth game. Kills from West's Brooke Kirkpatrick, then Deane Gallup reversed an 8-7 deficit for the Warriors. From there, the Warriors slowly opened up a lead to win its fifth straight in the series.

"We know we didn't play our best. That's not the team we are," said East volleyball coach Jamye Pauley. "Had we played our best the outcome might have been different."

She stopped short of saying the Titans would have won had they played their best, but she emphatically said the scores in the games would have much closer had the Titans communicated throughout the contest.

"When we communicate, we are a phenomenal team," Pauley said. "Tonight, wires got crossed and there wasn't much communication. It was always something different. It was blocking one time, hitting one time or defense one time."

Tuesday's match started just after 9 p.m. because of a pair of thrilling sub-varsity contests. West won the freshmen and junior varsity matches in three games 25-21, 20-25, 25-22 and 25-22, 25-27, 25-23 respectively.

The Victoria West gymnasium might have been at its fullest as the Warriors held on to win the junior varsity match.

However, that didn't stop either varsity program from focusing on the task at hand. West sophomore Brooke Kirkpatrick said her team just repeated its pregame ritual until it was time for them to take the court.

Kirkpatrick, Deane Gallup and Shelby Spradley were all making their first appearances in this rivalry. The occasion didn't faze any of them. Gallup led the Warriors with 14 kills. Kirkpatrick had 11 kills and a match-high eight blocks.

Entering the match both programs said intensity would be a critical component to their victory. East said they had start and finish games strong and not psyche themselves out. Meanwhile, West wanted to remain focused on the job at hand and keep their energy up.

West believes the reason they lost the second game was because their intensity slipped just long enough for the Titans to take advantage.

"If we don't have that then our momentum shuts down," Kirkpatrick said. "When that happens, we're unattached from each other."

In the second game the lead changed 11 times. Katelynn Wilson and Lienemann were taking advantage of any Warriors free balls. At the same time West made uncharacteristic miscommunications or hitting errors.

Wilson's well-disguised tip over two blockers ended Game 2 in favor of the Titans. The junior outside hitter was second on the team with seven kills Tuesday night.

Her kill left the Warriors with some long faces as the teams traded benches for the pivotal third game. If West was worried, they didn't show it.

Sandy Longoria's team never trailed in the third game. After another Wilson kill tied Game 3 4-4, the Warriors went on a 8-2 run to pull away.

Afterward, Kirkpatrick said the Warriors won for girls like Hamon, Kelsea Kalich and the rest of the senior class since Tuesday's match was the last time any of them would host East.

It might be homecoming week at Victoria West. Though they were hosting their rivals and the match started 95 minutes behind schedule those factors didn't deter the determined Warriors.

"We don't think about that kind of stuff," said a smiling Hamon. "We focus on volleyball. We love our crowd, but we love playing four ourselves."