LA PORTE

A well-rounded effort from Friendswood saw the Lady Mustangs volleyball team record a 25-20, 25-22, 25-17 sweep of district and Galveston County rival Texas City in their Region III-5A quarterfinal playoff match Saturday afternoon at La Porte High School.

“All of our kids did a good job of doing what they needed to do,” Friendswood head volleyball coach Sarah Paulk said.

Friendswood played from behind at some point in all three sets, but managed to battle back and overtake Texas City in each frame.

“We told them that we weren’t going to go down without a fight, so we kept fighting and kept going,” Paulk said.

A fired-up Lady Stings team jumped out to a 5-1 lead to start the opening set, but a key 7-1 run by Friendswood flipped a 9-6 Texas City lead into a 13-10 Lady Mustangs advantage. Leading Friendswood’s scoring sprint was Alessandra Meoni with three kills, while Ashlyn Svoboda and Sarah Sitton logged a kill apiece.

Texas City kept the score close, though, until four unanswered points pushed a 19-17 Friendswood lead to a solid 23-17 cushion.

With Texas City leading 5-4 early in the second set, the Lady Mustangs had a 7-0 burst that put them firmly in control. Or, so it would seem. Friendswood led by as much as 19-12 in the second set, and held a 23-17 lead until the Lady Stings went on a 5-0 run to make things interesting.

Veronica Victoria had a kill and a big block to fuel the run, and Haley James also had a kill during the late comeback attempt. The final point in Texas City’s run was a controversial out-of-bounds call on a well-hit ball form Jordan Norwood that appeared to land well inbounds. However, Texas City’s next serve crashed into the net, and Norwood got her revenge with a big block for set point.

Trailing the Lady Stings 12-10 in the third set, Friendswood got one final big push to put the match away, out-pacing Texas City 12-3 to take a commanding 22-15 lead.

“We had higher expectations, but they showed up ready to go and out-played us,” Texas City head volleyball coach Glenn Kennedy said.

The final big surge from from the Lady Mustangs was indicative of the total team effort they displayed throughout the match. Meoni sparked the run with back-to-back kills and later recorded an ace, and also contributing to the spurt were Sitton with two kills, Norwood with two kills, Kate Bueche with two aces and Cierra Pesak with an ace.

Leading the way in the match for Friendswood were Svoboda (13 kills, 15 digs), Meoni (12 kills), Sitton (nine kills), Pesak (21 digs), Bueche (three aces), Megan Hubbard (32 assists) and Anna Lippert (10 digs).

The Lady Mustangs advance to the regional semifinals, where they will face College Station at a time, date and location to be determined.

Top performers for the Lady Stings were Ashlynn Lewis (11 kills), James (nine kills), Macee Medina (27 digs), Lexi Colon (12 assists) and Jayla Diaz-Medina (11 assists).

For Texas City, a historic season comes to an end, as the Lady Stings’ match with Friendswood on Saturday was the volleyball program’s first ever in the third round of the playoffs.

“It was an amazing experience with this group of girls,” Kennedy said. “We kept telling them, ‘Picture yourself two years ago. Could you ever think hard work, trust and commitment would have you playing in this moment?’”

Moving forward, Kennedy said he sees a bright future for the Texas City volleyball program.

“This has definitely put us on the map,” Kennedy said. “Texas City volleyball hadn’t really been a thing, but people know our name now. It’s set the bar for the underclassmen coming up. Last year, we barely had enough to have a freshman team, and this year, we ended up cutting 35 kids. So, it’s growing, kids are wanting to be a part of it, and that’s really what it’s all about.”

James LaCombe: 409-683-5242, james.lacombe@galvnews.com or on Twitter @JamesAtGalvNews

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