HS Volleyball: Lady Highlanders Defeat Willis in Tightly Contested Straight Set Match

By: Jake Wilson
| Published 09/19/2023


THE WOODLANDS, TX -- The Woodlands Lady Highlanders (23-13) bested the Willis Ladykats (17-16) in straight sets after a previous up-and-down couple of weeks.

Over the last two weeks, the Lady Highlanders had failed to win their opening matches of the week with losses to the Grand Oaks Lady Grizzlies and the College Park Lady Cavaliers. The two losses constitute the Woodlands’ only district losses on the season that put the Lady Highlanders in third place in the district standings.

In an exclusive interview with The Woodlands Online Sports, Lady Highlander Head Coach Terri Wade spoke on the changes that the team has been making behind the scenes.

“We are trying to focus on lessening our unforced errors,” said Wade. “We have got some great skills for our team, but we also made a lot of unforced errors, like a lot of missed serves.”

With their preparation in mind, the Woodlands took little time asserting themselves against Willis in the first set. The Lady Highlanders scored the opening point on an ace and quickly set to work. A nine-point lead straight out of the gate resulted from consistent swings and rock-solid defense from the Woodlands. The Ladykats used multiple timeouts to stop the early momentum and were marginally successful.

While still out of reach, Willis came within three points of tying the opening set after a series of Woodlands errors and blocks. But with their lead from the start of the match, the Lady Highlanders safely secured a 25-18 win in the opening set.

Not to lie down and quit, Willis played a scrappy second set. Despite a six-point scoring run for the Lady Highlanders that gave them the lead, the Ladykats remained closely behind the Woodlands.

Prolonged volleys and more errors from the Woodlands kept the pressure up in a back-and-forth open to the second. The Lady Highlanders never led by more than seven in the early going, and Willis did their best to stay within reach.

“[Willis] is a team that does not give up,” said Wade. “We knew they were going to be fighters and try to force some comebacks.”

As the set continued on, however, the Woodlands began to build on their lead. The continued success of their outside hitters allowed the Lady Highlanders to grab a comfortable 25-14 win before the third set.

With the pressure on, Willis fought and scrapped for every possible point in the third set. The Ladykats began swinging ferociously against the Highlander defense with the goal of a win to extend the match.

The new strategy paid off, as the Ladykats never allowed the Woodlands to sustain a scoring run of more than five throughout the set. Steady play instead led the way for the Lady Highlanders down the stretch, with points becoming a hot commodity for both teams. The Ladykats kept up their fight towards the end of the match, but a handful of errors doomed the comeback. The set ended with a 25-20 win that secured a victory in straight sets for the Lady Highlanders.

“They were focused,” said Wade on her team in the final set. “Focused on their positives instead of the other team.”

With the win secured, the Lady Highlanders still sit just behind rival College Park, with only their head-to-head matchup separating them.

“I think a part of our success will be having a lot of home games,” said Wade on the end-of-season stretch. “For the next two weeks, we have home games so they can keep their focus and get a little momentum roll on our home court.”

The Lady Highlanders will host non-district opponent Episcopal on Friday, while the Ladykats must face a tough Oak Ridge squad at home.

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