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Vet leads Lady Flyers to victory (video)

By Julie Garcia
Oct. 1, 2013 at 5:01 a.m.

St. Joseph's Lauren Kurtz, top, goes for a kill over a block from Corpus Christi Incarnate Word's Sarita Kroeger, left, and Gen Devlin, right,  during the second set of Tuesday's match at St. Joseph.

Since Lauren Kurtz began playing volleyball at age 10, her mother has worked with her in their driveway at home.

A year before starting at St. Joseph, Kurtz's mother, Jodie Runge, didn't take the easy route during at-home practice.

"She used to be mad at me when she was in the eighth grade because I would hit the ball at her very hard," said Runge, a former volleyball setter. "She was like, 'Mom! You're killing me!' Now, she sees that it pays off."

Those extra hard hits have paid off for Kurtz, a three-year varsity player who has put up major numbers on offense and defense since her sophomore season.

St. Joseph (30-4 overall; 7-0 TAPPS District 3-4A) quickly flew past Corpus Christi Incarnate Word Academy on Tuesday 25-15, 25-19, 25-15.

According to MaxPreps.com, St. Joseph is ranked No. 4 in TAPPS Class 4A volleyball in the state. The team is ranked one spot ahead of Arlington Grace Prep, which defeated the Lady Flyers in last year's state championship.

Kurtz led St. Joseph with 16 kills and four aces Tuesday night.

Runge said that her daughter is a hard self-critic.

"Overall, she is a very well-rounded player from passing to full-game around the court," Runge said.

"I just go and practice hard every day," Kurtz said. "I try my hardest; I always give 110 percent and make sure I communicate with my teammates and just play hard."

Getting along off the court is important for achieving big plays, Kurtz said.

"We have team sleepovers; we're always bonding as a team," she said.

Kurtz called setter Natalie Bales one of her strongest allies on the court.

Bales had 31 assists and 10 digs against IWA.

Lady Flyers coach Allyson Griffin referred to Kurtz as the team's "go-to kid" for three years.

"If something's off, we definitely look to her to put the ball away when we need it, and she does that time and time again," Griffin said. "She's a pleasure."

Kurtz said her family is her core and that Runge is her biggest fan.

"She's been at all my games since I was 10 years old," she said about her mother.

With only two more district games before the playoffs, Griffin said her team is looking past district play.

"We're working on things we know we'll have to do when we get to that level, such as running a quicker offense, being tighter on defense, working on our blocking," Griffin said.

Griffin felt that the team started off slow against IWA on Tuesday. But the team knows what to work on, she said.

"We've got a long week of practice," Griffin said. "Our end result is being back on that state floor,"

Even with Kurtz being a senior and looking forward to state, her mother prefers to take the season a game at a time.

"Volleyball is about one game at a time, one set at a time," she said. "You show up, you play, and then you go to the next one."

St. Joseph will hit the road Oct. 8 to play Austin Regents.

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