Heading into Day 2 of the John Turner Classic on Friday, four Galveston County teams still had a shot at winning the largest high school volleyball tournament in the state of Texas, but, one by one, each were kicked to consolation brackets as the competition got tougher and tougher.
Making the furthest run in the championship bracket among the local squads was Clear Creek, which earned a first-round bye courtesy of a perfect 3-0 showing in pool play Thursday and then edged Dripping Springs (25-15, 19-25, 25-23) before falling to Schertz Clemens (19-25, 23-25) in the round of 16.
“We just have to play a little bit better, cut down on a few mistakes, and we’ll be where we need to be,” Clear Creek head coach Scott Simonds said.
While the Wildcats entered the Pearland ISD-hosted tournament with the goal of at least a trip to Saturday’s championship quarterfinals, Simonds said the team has improved leaps and bounds over their disappointing season opener Tuesday, and also noted a silver lining in the form of a comparison to last season’s state finalist team.
“I pointed out to them that we’re still playing for something tomorrow,” Simonds said. “Last year, we got ninth in this tournament, and we can finish that again tomorrow if we win out. If we do that and finish the season like we did last year, then that’s a hell of a year.”
Clear Creek begins its new goal for a ninth-place finish in the tournament with a match 9:15 a.m. today against Highland Park at the Pearland Recreational Center. That finish would actually give the Wildcats a moral victory as the top finishing team from Region III. Saturday’s championship bracket will feature only one Houston-area team: The Woodlands (Region II).
Friendswood, Clear Falls and Santa Fe all began Friday’s action with play-in matches to get into the championship bracket, but only the Lady Mustangs were able to cash in on the opportunity, as they topped crosstown rival Clear Brook (25-23, 25-14).
In its next match, Friendswood looked like it would make some noise against heavily-favored Allen, leading by as much as 19-14 in the first set, but the Lady Eagles stormed back to take a 25-23, 25-11 victory.
The Lady Mustangs rebounded in their next match against Houston Memorial (25-23, 25-19), and, like District 24-6A foe Clear Creek, will be vying for one of the gold bracket’s consolation championships when the tournament resumes today. First up, a match 8 a.m. today against New Braunfels Canyon at Pearland High School.
A sluggish start cost Clear Falls in its play-in match against San Antonio Churchill, as the Knights fell by the scores of 25-18 and 25-23.
Head coach Lyndsay Hodges said better consistency will be needed from her Knights as the season rolls on, and a microcosm of the team’s up-and-down showings occurred in their 15-25, 25-17, 25-13 win over Clear Brook in their following match.
“I feel like sometimes we go out and we’re super confident, and other times when we meet a team that puts pressure on us, we kind of fall back and think we’re not so good,” Hodges said. “That’s a mentality we need to work on.”
Hodges did say she was pleased with how quickly her two new freshmen starters, Rachel Brown and Mia Johnson, are meshing together with a roster full of veteran returners.
“I really like that they’ve taken on my two freshmen,” Hodges said. “They’ve really helped them out and are supporting them tremendously. And I feel like my freshmen want to be a part of it; they’re open-ears, listening to everything.”
The win over Clear Brook keeps Clear Falls alive for a potential silver bracket championship as the Knights continue tournament play 10:30 a.m. today against Flower Mound at Pearland High School.
Thursday’s surprise team, Santa Fe, was handed a tough 18-25, 25-18, 18-25 defeat against Deer Park in its gold bracket play-in match, and then were edged by Kingwood (21-25, 24-26) in its first-round silver bracket match.
The Lady Indians will seek the silver bracket consolation title when they resume play 4:45 p.m. today against San Antonio Brennan at Pearland High School.
The Clear Springs Chargers dusted themselves off after a 1-2 showing on Thursday and posted a pair of victories over Houston St. Agnes (25-14, 25-22) and Paris Trinity Christian Academy (25-21, 25-23) before conceding a tight loss to Richardson Pearce (23-25, 25-27) in bronze challenge pool play.
Clear Springs enters the bronze bracket 8 a.m. today against Dallas Ursuline Academy at Pearland Junior High South.
The Dickinson Lady Gators picked up their first win of the tournament by starting their day with a 25-5, 25-8 drubbing of Cedar Hill Trinity Christian, but then were topped by Richardson (17-25, 25-23, 19-25) in their next match.
Dickinson will enter the Flight 4 bracket with a match 8 a.m. today against Hondo at Dawson High School.