For the first time in the program’s six-year history, the Boyd Lady ‘Jackets are going to the playoffs.
With a five-set win over Peaster on Oct. 25, Boyd clinched third place in District 9-2A, giving them a spot in the postseason for the first time ever.
Down 14-11 in the fifth and deciding game, the Lady ‘Jackets rallied to take the match. When the ball dropped for the final time, they got to enjoy a moment they’ve never experienced.
“I just remember turning to my team and falling to the court crying,” senior Gabby Saldivar said. “It was overwhelming. We had set our goal at the beginning of the year, and at that moment we had reached it.”
Boyd (23-17, 4-6) opens the playoffs Tuesday against No. 16 Grandview (21-7) at Saginaw’s Chisholm Trail High School. Game time is 6:30 p.m.
Coming into the 2013 season Boyd had won one district game in five years and had only 10 wins last year.
Under new head coach Dusty Crafton, the Lady ‘Jackets won four league games this season and reached a historic high of 23 victories.
“They are starting to see the court a lot better, and they play so hard,” Crafton said. “It’s very rewarding as a coach to see kids work their hearts out and then reap the rewards. They’ve done everything I asked them to do, and they deserve it.”
The road to the postseason was a bumpy one. After 19 wins during the preseason, Boyd struggled out of the gate in league play. They lost four of their first five matches before rallying to win three of their next four in the second round of district.
It was a win over Peaster, late in the first round, that triggered the late momentum. In a shocking three-set sweep, the Lady ‘Jackets were back on track.
“When they beat Peaster the first time, they started to believe,” Crafton said. “We needed to get that win, so we would have the belief that we could win.”
Wins over Millsap, Ponder and Peaster again followed. They faced fourth-ranked and defending state champion Brock during district play, but Tuesday will be the second toughest test of the season for Boyd.
Grandview is the second seed out of District 10-2A after losing a coin flip with first-place Godley.
“They play well as a team, have a strong outside hitter and middle blocker,” Crafton said of Grandview. “We have to win the serve-receive battle, have a next-point mentality and play as a team.”
Despite their success, the Lady ‘Jackets don’t want the season to end here. They have their sights set on another upset Tuesday.
“We’re not stopping. We’re not satisfied,” Britney Howard said. “We’ve made our goals and reached them, but the playoffs isn’t enough. We’re going to keep working, and hopefully we’ll go further.”
Crafton added: “This group has a lot of determination,” she said. “They want to leave a legacy behind. It would be huge for them, and there is not a doubt in my mind that they are going to fight for it.”
It means a lot for the seniors, too. They have been playing together since the seventh grade, and now they have the distinction of being the class to get Boyd volleyball into the playoffs.
“It means more to us than anything,” Saldivar said. “Everybody has the same love for the game and the same passion.
“When you get a group of girls on the court that all think the same, it’s amazing what can happen. You don’t have to have all talent, you just have to have all heart.”