St. Joseph honors strong set of seniors

Julie Garcia By Julie Garcia

Oct. 10, 2013 at 5:10 a.m.

A school bus carrying St. Joseph volleyball players to a district game in Austin last year wrecked, causing that night's game to be canceled.

As the Lady Flyers took the court Thursday night against Austin Hyde Park Baptist, coach Allyson Griffin said they "went in blind" against the Lady Panthers.

That blindness was more like nearsightedness for St. Joseph (30-4, 7-0) who swept Hyde Park (9-13, 5-0) in three sets 25-16, 25-15, 25-9.

It was St. Joseph's last district game before the district tournament next Tuesday.

It was also Senior Night, a game chosen to honor the team's five senior players and remember them for their heart on and off the court.

Griffin will be sad to say goodbye to her seniors, who are libero Peyton Cuellar (two aces, 21 digs), Natalie Bales (25 assists, three kills, 14 digs), Lauren Kurtz (four aces, 15 kills, 10 digs), Samantha Posey (two kills, one dig) and Kalyn Hempel.

"All five seniors hit the floor tonight, and they all played well," Griffin said. "It breaks my heart to lose them. They're my babies - I love them like they're my own."

All of the seniors were on the team who made it to the TAPPS 4A District 3 state championship last season.

Cuellar believes the current squad is stronger than last year.

"I feel a lot more confident in my team this year," Cuellar said. "When we started off, we had some new players, so we had to develop that bond. We're like sisters now, so it comes easy to us."

The Lady Flyers are undefeated in district, much like they were last season at this point.

The only team to take a game from St. Joseph has been St. Dominic Savio out of Austin, but it still lost to the Lady Flyers 3-1.

"This district has been baffling to us, just by who has beaten who," Griffin said. "We haven't really had a clear picture yet. People we think are stronger teams have been losing to those we didn't think were very strong."

Savio played Austin Regents on Thursday, the team that St. Joseph beat in three sets earlier in the week.

"We played much better tonight than we did Tuesday against Regents. We were flat then," Griffin said. "It's kind of a come to Jesus (moment) in that it's time to peak and stop messing around. That's what they did tonight; it was really clean."

Griffin believes that Savio will likely be the team St. Joseph faces in Round 1 of the district tournament.

"They're going to give us a tough game - everybody wants to give us a tough game," she said. "Nobody is going to let us out of this district easy and put us on an easy road back to state. I tell the girls that everybody is after us; we've got to get better every game."

With the strong bond between her on-court sisters, Cuellar believes they will make it to state.

"We do have our off times, but when we do talk, we're a powerhouse. You can't take us down," Cuellar said.



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