Victoria East’s Trinity Morris is usually the first one to celebrate with her teammates each time the Lady Titans deliver a point or make a game-changing play.

But what stands out most about Morris is her passion to provide comfort after a loss.

“It’s nice to have that kind of leadership,” said East first-year coach Shaun Miller. “A team can be successful when you have that kind of leadership. The fact that she’s only a junior filling in that role and being that voice is good. She’s not perfect, but she goes out there and gives it everything she has.”

Morris, who is one of two returners on the team, could be found providing relief after the Lady Titans fell 25-20, 26-24, 25-18 against Corpus Christi Ray in the District 29-5A opener for both teams on Tuesday night at the East gym.

Morris finished with 5 kills, 13 assists, 13 digs, 2 aces and a block to pace East’s offense.

“I told them we have to keep our heads up and stay positive throughout the whole game,” Morris said. “We have it, we just have to execute and push through the whole game.”

East led in all three sets against Ray, but the Lady Titans were unable to maintain the lead late.

The Lady Titans captured their first lead at 13-12 in the first set and went up 19-16 on a kill by Abigail DeDear.

But the Lady Texans responded with a 8-1 run to capture a 25-20 win.

“I think the one thing I have been emphasizing from the start is that we have to do a better job of ball control — which is exactly what they did,” Miller said. “We had better hitters than they did, but we relied on our hitting too much. We need to do a better job of ball control to keep people off balance. We had a lot of hitting errors.”

East grabbed its largest lead in the second set behind Morris, McKenzie Martinez, Sarah Castaneda and Olivia Conley.

The Lady Titans led 14-8 before the Lady Texans began another comeback.

Hitting errors and net violations proved costly and Ray took advantage by escaping with a 26-24 win.

East led again in the third set, but the Lady Texans took the lead and never looked back for a 25-18 decision.

“We worked good together but it was the little mistakes that got us,” said Martinez, who finished with 26 digs and 3 aces. “We had the momentum and when we made mistakes, we kept repeating them. We have to get past those mistakes and keep pushing forward.”

Martinez, who is in her first season on varsity, is hoping the Lady Titans can get back on track Friday against crosstown rival Victoria West.

The Warriors are coming off a five-set win against Corpus Christi Carroll.

“They’re going to bring some big hitters,” Martinez said. “Me personally, I want to continue to keep up my defense.”

“We have to focus at practice and keep our head in it,” Morris added. “We have to realize what’s important and be ready on Friday.”

District 29-5A

CC Ray 3, Victoria East 0

CC Ray 25 26 25

Victoria East 20 24 18

Highlights: (E) Devanie Armstrong 18 digs, 1 kill; Sarah Castaneda 7 digs, 5 assists, 4 aces; Olivia Conley 6 digs, 4 kills, 1 ace; Abigail DeDear 3 digs, 1 kill, 1 block; McKenzie Martinez 26 digs, 1 kill, 3 aces; Trinity Morris 13 digs, 5 kills, 13 assists, 2 aces, 1 block; Hayden Ramirez 15 digs, 4 kills Regan Redding 3 digs, 2 kills; Emily Wall 4 digs, 1 block. Record: East, 0-1; Ray 1-0. JV: CC Ray 2-0; Freshman: Victoria East 2-0.

Rey Castillo is the assistant sports editor for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached at rcastillo@vicad.com, 361-574-1240 or on Twitter @reycastillo361.

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