PEASTER — To say the first three weeks of the volleyball season have been a whirlwind for the Glen Rose Lady Tigers may be a little bit of an understatement.
Since the first day of the season Aug. 8, the Lady Tigers have won 28 matches (no losses), climbed to No. 1 in Class 4A and won three tournaments (Denton Ryan, Glen Rose, Argyle).
The first day of school Monday brought with it a bit of normalcy, and head coach Sandy Langford welcomes it.
“We are ready to slow down and get into a practice and game routine,” she said. “After playing so many games with so many different playing styles and talent, we have changed and adapted well on the spot, but there are still many little things we need to get in there and get our hands dirty in practice to change.”
Nothing was close to normal Tuesday night, however, in the Lady Tigers’ second-to-last preseason match before beginning district play.
Glen Rose needed five sets to defeat a gritty Peaster team 25-17, 24-26, 25-18, 21-25, 15-11. Now the Lady Tigers will play Class 6A Arlington Bowie Friday night (Sept. 1) at Tiger Arena before opening up District 8-4A play the following Friday at Venus.
“I think it was a great mental game for us for sure,” said Langford, whose team didn’t have a single five-game match last season. “I knew going in we would struggle. Not that we aren't facing anything different than all the other volleyball teams right now, but we are coming off 27 games and three very difficult tournaments. We are tired, and we traveled again, so I knew it was going to be a difficult game to get our wheels turning in.”
Logan Smith paced the Lady Tigers with 20 kills, while Bryanna Lytle added 11 and Libby Hinton had 10. Ally Andress had a solid line with five kills and five blocks, and Laiken McNear had three kills and four blocks. Hinton also tallied six service aces.
After Glen Rose took the first set 25-17 behind seven kills from Smith, the two teams traded sets the rest of the way.
In the decisive fifth set, the Lady Tigers jumped out to a 10-2 lead, then hung on for the win. Smith had three kills in the early run, and Hinton added a kill and a service ace.
The Lady Greyhounds, who are ranked No. 20 in Class 3A, scored nine of the next 11 points and cut the lead to 12-11 before a Peaster error and back-to-back kills by Hinton lifted the Lady Tigers to the win.
“We were gassed and had more unforced in that game alone than we typically have had in an entire day of tourney play,” Langford said. “I am proud of the girls for fighting through it and sometimes it wasn't pretty at all.”
Last Saturday, behind 18 kills from Smith and nine more from Andress, the Lady Tigers captured the Sawyer Camillo Memorial Tournament at Argyle High School with a 25-22, 25-23, 22-25, 25-23 victory over District 8-4A rival and previously unbeaten Midlothian Heritage.
“We knew it would be the toughest tournament yet,” Langford said. “In all three, the competition has been tough but it was our last of three — three out of five games — and I guessed if we both played well, us and Midlothian Heritage would end up playing each other. It was our toughest match mentally.”
The Lady Tigers opened Gold Bracket play Saturday morning with a 27-25, 25-16, 23-25, 25-16 win over Wichita Falls Rider and then earned a berth into the final with a 25-19, 25-16, 27-25 victory over Sanger.
Last year, Glen Rose lost to Argyle in that tournament’s championship game.
The Lady Tigers began tournament play in Argyle on Aug. 24 and beat O.D. Wyatt 25-2, 25-3, 25-2; previously unbeaten Graham, ranked fourth in Class 4A, 26-24, 25-17, 21-25, 25-23; and Little Elm 25-14, 20-25, 25-12, 25-17.
For the third consecutive tournament, Smith was named the Most Valuable Player, while Hinton was named to the all-tournament team for the third time this year and setter Mallory Rogers was named to the all-tournament team.