Photo by Gerald Castillo
HCCS sweeps Houston Family Christian, advances to TAPPS quarterfinals
Grace Stewart pointed up to the balcony that looks down on the Hill Country Christian gym. Blue banners hung over the railing, one for each of the Rams’ athletic accomplishments, including two volleyball state championships in 1997 and 1998.
“I want a banner up there,” Stewart said.
Hill Country got one step closer to hanging another one on Tuesday night, sweeping Houston Family Christian 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-19) at home in the second round of the TAPPS 1A playoffs.
Stewart set the tone early for the Lady Rams. Tied at 6-6 in the first set, the senior outside hitter went to the serving stripe and scored an ace on her first attempt. Her next serve resulted in another ace. Same for her third. Stewart kept serving for another 9 points before the Lady Warriors finally found a kill, ending the 12-0 run. Hill Country went on to take the frame, 25-17.
“I was just thinking about how I wanted to start us off good and get us that lead because the game was pretty close at that point,” Stewart said. “So, I just wanted to be able to further advance our lead so that we could play how we wanted to play and continue to pick up momentum. And I think we did that. I think because of that little run, we got to pick up that win and then play how we wanted to play.”
Family Christian put up a lot more fight in the next game. Neither team was able to gain much momentum as they remained tied at 22-22 late in the frame. The Lady Warriors sent a spike too far to give the Lady Rams a slight edge and possession of the ball.
Sophomore Holly Prestage served an ace on the next play and sophomore Mattie DeKay scored a kill on the final play on an assist by sophomore Camille Davis, giving Hill Country a 25-22 set win and a 2-0 lead in the match.
“(I told the team) we needed to keep our communication going,” head coach Leslie Olson said. “Making sure that we were aware of what everybody’s role was. And then we needed to just start hitting smarter, hitting to the holes on the other side of the net.”
The Lady Warriors still weren’t finished yet, jumping out to 8-2 lead in the third frame. Hill Country kept pushing, though. Davis came up with a block to stop the run and Hill Country sent Demaris Darnell to the line. The senior served a 7-0 run to put the Bobcats up 10-8. The Lady Rams never trailed again, mashing the set, 25-19, and the match, 3-0.
“We just really had to come together more as a team,” senior libero Shelby Glosson said. “We really started to get down on ourselves and think maybe we weren’t going to win this game. But we knew we could. And so we just took a break for a second, everyone took a deep breath and just got together and played like we know we can.”
With the win, Hill Country advances to the quarterfinals of the playoffs. They’ll head to New Braunfels Christian academy to take on San Antonio Legacy Christian Academy on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Stewart said it’ll be the Lady Rams’ toughest match of the season, but thinks her team can make a deep run in the playoffs.
“For me, the goal is state,” Stewart said. “I mean, who wouldn’t want to win state? So that, for me, is what we’re striving for as a team and as me, individually. That’s what I want to accomplish.”