PORT LAVACA — Calhoun coach Jenna Buzek was unavailable to coach Tuesday night’s pivotal District 26-4A game against No. 12 Rockport-Fulton.
Still, even sidelined at home with a non-COVID illness, Buzek had a game plan for the Sandies in their battle with the Pirates.
That game plan was executed as planned to lift the Sandies to a sweep of the Pirates (25-17, 25-16, 27-25). Calhoun (21-10, 7-1) also moves into a tie with Rockport-Fulton (24-9, 7-1) atop the district standings.
Acting head coach Kristen Spencer said all she needed to do was fill out the lineup card thanks to the game plan.
“At first I was nervous because I wanted to do the girls and coach Buzek justice because she has some big shoes to fill,” Spencer said. “She had the game plan already in tact. She coached the girls so well. Then they came out here and executed it like pros. It was so much fun to watch. I didn’t do anything except turn in a lineup and scream like a crazy person on the sideline.”
Finding out the day of the match they would be without Buzek required the Sandies to refocus. They wanted to make sure their coach’s hard work paid off, even without her on the sideline.
“Our team had practiced so hard for this game. We watched film and knew what they were going to do,” said hitter Rosie Orta. “Knowing the day of the game that our coach wasn’t going to be here was a little shocking. But coach Spencer had our back and we knew the gameplan, and we finished.”
Calhoun was able to take the first set thanks to Leah Lucey and Nevaeh Rangel combining for six blocks to open the match. The Sandies knew they needed that kind of play against the Pirates’ attack.
That set the tone for the Sandies.
“That was definitely a huge part of the momentum,” Spencer added. “We don’t typically get that many huge touches. We get touches, but not in-your-face blocks. So, I think that was a momentum-building surprise for the girls. When we got those blocks, it was huge.”
Orta, who finished with a triple-double of kills, assists and digs, was able to connect with setter Emma Strakos with ease Tuesday night. Orta finished the match with 11 kills and Strakos had 13 assists, most of which were finished off by Orta.
Calhoun wanted it’s offense to operate faster to get around the Pirates’ blockers.
“With our practice and the game plan, we just did a bunch of reps,” Orta said. “Reps, reps, reps with each setter. That’s how we had that connection.”
The Sandies had to dig deep in the third set.
Leading 19-10, Calhoun allowed Rockport-Fulton to go on a 14-4 run to take a 24-23 lead. The Sandies fought off a pair of set points before Orta’s third ace secured the sweep.
Spencer made sure the team knew it had controlled the game up until that point to help them rally back.
“It was uncertainty that slowed their momentum,” Spencer said. “They were uncertain of who would take balls, or if it was in or out, and not going for everything like they were the first two sets. Once they realized that, they turned it around. You could see they started driving that third set.”
Calhoun 3, Rockport-Fulton 0
Rockport-Fulton 17 16 25
Calhoun 25 25 27
Highlights: (C) Emma Strakos 13 assists, 8 digs; Kamryn Kestler 4 kills, 2 blocks, 2 digs, 1 ace; Keri Grantland 20 digs, 3 assists, 2 aces; Leah Lucey 5 kills, 4 blocks, 1dig; Morgan Gray 3 kills, 12 digs, 1 block; Rosie Orta 11 kills, 15 assists, 13 digs, 3 aces, 1 block; Savannah Lane 7 kills, 2 digs; Record: Calhoun 21-10, 7-1