DUNCANVILLE — Though the volley ended with a Lake Ridge point, three-consecutive Audrey Nalls blocks of Madison Williams and Capri Davis served as more than a couple stats.
It was a rallying point for the Lady Indians in a straight-set sweep of the Lady Eagles. Waxahachie ousted Lake Ridge from the 5A volleyball playoffs with a 25-21, 29-27, 29-27 win in the Region II quarterfinals Tuesday night at Duncanville High School.
The win moves the Lady Indians into the Region II tournament for the ninth-straight year. The streak began in 2009.
"This is one of the most exciting victories, ever, and I have coached for a really long time," said Waxahachie head volleyball coach Sandy Faussett. "Not because I didn't expect it but because I thought we could do it. It was just putting the pieces together. I have said all along that we are going to continue to get better as we go. We have all of our pieces to our puzzle and everyone is healthy. We are just getting better every day."
She added, "I am so proud of this team for continuing to work hard and believe in the process. This team has great chemistry and really plays for each other."
The three blocks from the middle by Nalls set the tone of the third set — despite the Lady Eagles pushing ahead by two after the exchange, 16-14.
A fourth Nalls block pulled the Lady Indians within one, 16-15.
Courtney Crownover then recorded a kill off of a Taylor Stoops assist two serves later and kept the deficit at one.
"Blocking, just like a great dig, is just such a boost and brings a lot of enthusiasm or excitement to the floor," Faussett explained. "Those are the plays that get you fired up because it's not a certainty all the time."
After each team found a way to side out, a Baylee Whitehead ace tied the third set at 18-all. Back to back Lake Ridges errors then put Waxahachie ahead, 20-19, and a third-consecutive unforced-error forced the Lady Eagles into a timeout trailing 21-19.
With Ragan Ward still serving, Waxahachie took a 22-19 lead before a hitting error capped the mini-run.
A Trinity Bryant ace two serves later tied the set at 22 and forced a Faussett timeout. The Lady Eagles promptly retook the lead out of the timeout.
On the next serve, Nalls made a nice adjustment for an on-target feed to Stoops that resulted in a Lacy Mott kill to tie the match at 23.
Nalls then slammed a kill home two serves later to tie the set again, this time at 24. Her point was followed by a Lake Ridge error and 25-24 Waxahachie lead.
Capri Davis tied the match on the next serve, but a service error put the Lady Indians back in front with a chance to again close out the sweep.
A long volley ensued, highlighted by an Allison Wells dig, that ended when Crownover and Anna Rodgers teamed up for a block from the right side for the 29-27 win.
"I knew it would be close, and it would be tight, but I really like the way we compete when the match is tight. I thought the girls showed a lot of character. We were still swinging hard and making good plays when it mattered the most."
Audrey Nalls led the Lady Indians with 22 kills (52 attempts), eight blocks and broke a team-high 24 serves. Lacy Mott added nine kills, while Essence Clerkley chipped in five.
Baylee Whitehead recorded a pair of aces and did not commit a service error on any of her 13 attempts, nor did Sara Sims on her 16 serves and one ace. Whitehead also finished second on the team behind Allison Wells (11) with eight digs.
Faussett applauded the play of Wells during the win, saying she was a "playmaker" and pointed out her dig of Capri Davis late in the third set as one of the highlights of the night.
Ragan Ward, Sims and Courtney Crownover all posted seven digs, while Taylor Stoops added six to go with her 28 assists.
Whitehead and Wells both received 15 serves.
Waxahachie, who is tied with (37-5) Red Oak for the 10th spot in the latest Texas Girls Coaches Association 5A poll, will face No. 3 (39-10) Lovejoy at Berkner High School in Richardson. The first serve of Friday's Region II semifinal is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10.
Red Oak will then face No. 2 (42-6) Prosper at 7 p.m. with the winner of the two matches playing Saturday at 5 p.m. for a trip to the state tournament.
"The top teams in the state are sitting in our bracket. I am super excited because with the way we continue to get better. There are a lot of years where you might peak too soon, but I think we can still continue to get better in the two days leading up to it (the tournament)."
She added, "You just have to go play."