The Friendswood Lady Mustangs came out Tuesday simply on fire and never looked back en route to a 25-13, 25-16, 25-21 sweep of the Santa Fe Lady Indians in a District 22-5A showdown.
“They were ready, and they wanted the win tonight,” Friendswood head coach Sarah Paulk said.
The match was a renewal of a long-time district rivalry between the two schools, which was put on hold during Friendswood’s stint in District 24-6A the previous four years. The four-year break had no effect on the rivalry’s intensity, as fans from both sides packed Friendswood’s gym and were loudly, proudly cheering on their teams.
“It was really awesome for all of our kids to come out and support them, and the same for (Santa Fe), too — they had a really good crowd,” Paulk said. “It was a really good environment, and I know our kids have been really excited for it.”
Friendswood came out swinging — much to the frustration of Santa Fe — in this one, getting out to a 7-0 lead in the first set fueled by three kills from Makensy Manbeck (13 kills, .545 hitting percentage, two blocks) and an ace from Elle McGown.
“They started off a lot stronger than what we were expecting, and I always say my kids are fighters, but I didn’t see that fight I always see in them,” Santa Fe head coach Jennifer Webb said.
Leading 8-3, the Lady Mustangs went on another 7-0 run, highlighted by a pair of big blocks from Nicole Scott (three blocks) and a couple kills from Ashlyn Svoboda (16 digs), to take a commanding 15-3 lead.
Santa Fe kept things closer in the next two sets, but Friendswood was able to string together key runs in each frame to take control.
Leading 16-13 in the second set, the Lady Mustangs scored six unanswered points, capped by back-to-back aces from Kate Bueche (22 digs, three aces). Ahead 12-10 in the match-clinching third set, Friendswood went on an 8-3 run that featured three kills from Lauren Hubbard (11 kills, .435 hitting percentage, five blocks).
“There were some times when we looked a little tired, but I think we kept the momentum and the intensity until the very end,” Paulk said.
Pacing the passing game and providing some defensive help throughout the match for the Lady Mustangs was Tori Weatherley (34 assists, nine digs).
Statistical leaders for Santa Fe were Teresa Garza (nine kills), Rylie Peters (six kills), Elena Dondonay (20 assists), Freedom Stephenson (14 digs) and Kylie Verm (nine digs).
In what has been an up-and-down year for the Lady Mustangs, who had a difficult pre-district schedule, the impressive win over a quality Santa Fe team could be a turning point for their season, Paulk said.
“We just needed one really good win, and I felt like they could expect to see how good they really are,” Paulk said. “We needed this, and I think it’ll be a good turning point.”
For Santa Fe, Tuesday’s match will serve as a learning experience to grow on, Webb said.
“We will work, we will make adjustments, and next time, it won’t be like that,” Webb said.
Both teams will be back in action on the road Friday. Friendswood is set to start 4:30 p.m. at Galena Park, and Santa Fe is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. match at Baytown Lee.