The Santa Fe Lady Indians passed a tough test Tuesday to set up a District 23-5A title showdown Friday as they logged a 25-22, 18-25, 25-17, 25-17 win over a tough Alvin Shadow Creek side.
“I’m very proud of the girls,” Santa Fe head coach Jennifer Webb said. “They came out strong, had a little hiccup in the second set, but they didn’t let that get them down, and they worked hard in the next two games to finish it in four.”
The win assures Santa Fe (13-1 in district) of at least a runner-up finish in the 23-5A standings, and keeps alive the possibility of a co-district championship if the Lady Indians are able to knock off first-place Manvel (14-0) in a match 4:30 p.m. Friday at Manvel High School.
Regardless of that match’s outcome, the 2017 season has marked an impressive turnaround for the Lady Indians under first-year head coach Webb after missing the playoffs in 2016.
“We hated that we had to sit out, and these girls were determined from Day 1 that we were going to make the playoffs,” Webb said.
Sophomore setter Kassidy Taves did a little bit of everything for the Lady Indians in Tuesday’s match, finishing with nine kills, 16 digs, two aces and a team-best 21 assists.
Junior outside hitter Kylie Verm also stuffed the stat sheets with a team-high 17 kills to go along with 20 digs.
Other top performances turned in for Santa Fe came from sophomore libero Elena Dondonay (21 digs, two aces), senior opposite hitter Tori Smith (seven kills, four blocks), senior middle blocker Julia White (seven kills), senior setter Maddie Schulze (13 assists) and sophomore middle blocker Rachael Douglas (3.5 blocks).
“They’re playing exactly how I want them to play,” Webb said. “They’re playing aggressive. They’re taking more chances with different things. They’ve worked hard the past two weeks, and it definitely showed.”
Trailing 2-3 in the first set, a pair of kills from White powered a quick 4-0 run for Santa Fe that gave the Lady Indians a lead they would not relinquish.
Kills from White and Smith later in the set helped balloon the lead to as much as 20-13, and although the Lady Sharks rallied to make things interesting, their deficit was simply too much.
Verm put down the set-clinching kill to put Santa Fe up, 1-0, in the match.
Too many mental mistakes proved costly in the second set. Santa Fe was able to chip away at an early 4-point deficit for a 13-12 lead, but then saw Shadow Creek pull away to tie things up, 1-1.
Santa Fe raced out to a whopping 17-4 lead in the third set, and then a referee’s error in the fourth set only served to light a fire in the Lady Indians for a crucial run.
With Shadow Creek ahead, 7-6, in the fourth set, a tip kill from senior outside hitter Breanne Harris was followed by an apparent block out of bounds by the Lady Sharks.
The referee did not see the block clearly, though, and called for a do-over, which ignited an 8-2 run for Santa Fe that was fueled by kills from Verm, Douglas and Taves and an ace from Harris.