HS Volleyball: The Woodlands Claims District Opener In Front Of Energetic Oak Ridge Crowd
THE WOODLANDS, TX -- The Woodlands Lady Highlanders (12-8) took home a hard-fought victory against the Oak Ridge Lady War Eagles (14-7) to open district play on Tuesday.
An excited Oak Ridge home crowd welcomed the Lady Highlanders in the first district game for either squad. Junior Varsity players, invested students, and members of the War Eagle football team were all present to hound their opponent.
Woodlands Head Coach Terri Wade spoke on the team’s perspective while playing against such an oppressive away environment.
“They were getting excited about it before the game,” said Coach Wade. “It’s fun to play against a good atmosphere.”
Oak Ridge opened the match with an impressive offensive run mounted on strong play from middle-blocker Luvina Oguntimehin. The Lady Highlanders would not be discouraged as their defense came alive and spurred a six-to-nothing run to reclaim the lead after scoring the opening point. The remainder of the set would be back and forth with a total of eight ties before a second six-to-nothing Lady Highlander run would break the deadlock and allow them to claim the set 25-21.
“When we go to put it away with our offense, it is amazing,” said Coach Wade. “Even if we had a six-nothing lead or a five-point run, we cannot stop.”
The second set saw much the same with neither team being able to create separation and a staggering 11 ties. The Lady Highlanders would lead by as many as five points during the early going but defensive plays from Oak Ridge kept them in the set. This defensive momentum would feed the Lady War Eagles on offense culminating in a three-point run to even up the sets at one apiece.
“I think we found a lack of confidence in some areas,” said Coach Wade. “They would be going hard and then they let up because we did not want to make errors or we wanted to keep the ball in play.”
The offensive consistency would finally begin to click for The Woodlands during the third set. A strong offensive opening of five straight by the Lady Highlanders, highlighted by kills from outside hitter Ella Lewis, would build the largest lead of the set. The lead would never go above five points, but the lack of a strong scoring run from Oak Ridge would hurt them as they would drop the set 25-21.
“As long as Ella [Lewis] could get the ball in a good spot, we knew we were good,” said Coach Wade. “She had some good openings where it was just a good matchup for us against their block.”
With the game in jeopardy, the Lady War Eagles came out firing in the fourth set. While still in single digits, Oak Ridge would rattle off seven straight points to build a four-point lead. During an intense struggle that saw 11 ties with long and sustained volleys, the Lady Highlanders would creep ahead by one. Errors down the stretch from the Lady War Eagles and an ace on the match-point would clinch the district opener for The Woodlands three sets to one.
A controversial call in the final two points could have swung the set in favor of Oak Ridge. A jumping and screaming Coach Wade made her case heard, but kept the focus off her team, allowing them to keep their composure in the final, tense moments.
“I wanted them to stay calm,” said Coach Wade. “Let me be the fool out there if I have to be, but they had to keep their focus.”
Both teams will participate in tournaments from Thursday to Saturday before taking on the rest of the District 13-6A schedule.