Warriors swat No. 8 Edcouch-Elsa, advance to regional tournament

Nov. 7, 2012 at 5:07 a.m.

CORPUS CHRISTI - There was a real potential for change - at least in volleyball - Tuesday night. But, if one expected the Victoria West to provide it, they were looking in the wrong place.

The Warriors (36-6) advanced to the Class 4A regional volleyball tournament for the third straight year after a 25-17, 25-19, 25-17 victory over No. 8 Edcouch-Elsa.

West has put together a slew of strong performances this campaign, but Tuesday's regional quarterfinal victory over the Lady Jackets was, to use the words of West junior Kate Klimist, definitely fun.

West advances to play Cedar Park in the Region IV-4A semifinals Friday in San Antonio.

"We were all gelling tonight," said Klimist, a right-side hitter, who finished with eight blocks. "Everything was working really well. Our passes were working, our sets were working great and our hits were on."

Entering Tuesday's match, Edcouch-Elsa (33-5) had lost just once since the beginning of September. It's a streak that came to an end due to West's defense.

The Warriors stated as much. Edcouch-Elsa head coach Ofelia Griffith did as well.

Griffith said she thought her team could compete against the Warriors and play their brand of smart, yet aggressive, volleyball. However, she said, the Lady Jackets lost focus at times and were scrambling to establish its offense because of West's blocking and height advantage.

"Our defense really needed to be a key role for us tonight," said senior middle blocker Rachel Hamon, who had eight kills and a team-high 12 blocks. "Our passing and our blocking, we really needed to shut a couple of their players down and then we knew that we had this one."

Senior Arianna Tanguma led Edcouch-Elsa with 10 kills, 13 digs and seven assists. Her teammate Gabby Capello was the Lady Jackets second leading attacker with just five kills.

There were times Tuesday night West appeared to know how the Lady Jackets were going to attack them. It turns out, that was the case.

"We knew their whole lineup and we studied it all week long," said senior setter Blair Butschek said with a big smile. "When our coach scouted them, we knew everything they were going to make."

West defensive specialist Shelby Spradley watched the Lady Jackets eliminate Calhoun over the weekend in Alice with her mom, and that study paid off. Spradley led the Warriors with seven digs. Junior libero Michelle Rendon also had seven digs, while Butschek finished with six digs and 35 assists.

Friday's contest at the Paul Taylor Fieldhouse will be a rematch of the 2011 regional semifinal match. However, West is a far different team than the one that lost to the Timberwolves in four games.

Hamon and Kelsea Kalich are the only girls who have been on all three regional qualifiers. This year girls, like Klimist, Spradley, Rendon, sophomore Brooke Kirkpatrick (five blocks) and senior Deane Gallup (nine kills, five blocks) have stepped up and maintained the tradition of excellence.

"Kelsea and I have taken on the leadership role," Hamon said. "It has really helped our team become closer and it's made us a group of girls (who had) not played together very often come together and play as a team and take teams down."



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