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Saturday Sports Buffet: Putting a ring on it – Lady Eagles receive state championship bling

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, February 22, 2014

The bright red polish gives a perfect contrast to the shiny new bling on Stormi Leonard’s hand.

“I had my nails done for this!” Leonard exclaimed. “It fits perfectly. I wanted to post a lot of pictures of my new favorite accessory. It’s the best accessory ever.”

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WORTHY AWARD – Decatur volleyball players react to opening the boxes that contained their state championship rings Wednesday in the high school library. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

Leonard and the other members of the Decatur Lady Eagles Wednesday afternoon received their rings for winning the Class 3A volleyball championship last November. The Lady Eagles, who went 41-7 on the year, beat Bellville in three games to capture the program’s first state title.

“They are so pretty,” said Decatur senior Katie Isham about the ring. “I’m going to keep staring at it until it loses its shine.”

The seniors and captains of the team picked out the ring that has a big “D” on top.

“It’s perfect,” said junior Cooper Martin. “It’s exciting. I’ve been waiting for this day.”

Coach Claire Benedict shared the joy with her team. She enjoyed seeing their reaction more than getting her own ring.

“To see the joy in their eyes is what it’s all about,” she said. “It’s great to see that their hard work paid off.

“This finalizes it. When you are in the moment it’s surreal and you’re running on adrenaline. For them to finally have [the rings] finalizes it.”

Decatur ISD Superintendent Rod Townsend and High School Principal Jason Cochran handed out the rings to the champions Wednesday.

“It is an honor to hand you these rings but it was also an honor to watch you play,” Cochran said.

“Only 52 teams have done what you did.”

Cochran and Townsend praised the team’s accomplishment along with the class they displayed along the way.

“I’ve been waiting 32 years for this moment,” said Townsend, who added he sat through a lot of bad volleyball before arriving in Decatur.

As the team begins work on next year and its five seniors head on to the next big stage in life, they will only need to look at the accessory on their hands to remember the great times they shared.

“We will have the memories forever,” Martin said. “This will keep us even closer.”

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Messenger photo by Richard Greene

SIDEDISHES

  • For the first time in three years, the Alvord Lady Bulldogs will not be in the Class 2A Region II tournament as top-ranked Sunnyvale knocked them out in the area round Tuesday. But it’s been an impressive run for the Lady Bulldogs over the past three seasons, going 81-27. Two of those seasons, the eventual state champion Brock ended the Lady Bulldogs’ run. Now, it’s up to Sunnyvale to continue that string
  • Tuesday, the Argyle Lady Eagles looked like a team headed to a state title against the Decatur Lady Eagles. The scary part about the second-ranked squad is that nearly everyone will return next year
  • With the Decatur girls’ loss to Argyle, that brought 9-3A’s record against its 10-3A neighbors to 1-4 this playoff year on the girls side. In the boys playoffs, Decatur earned 9-3A’s lone win against 10-3A in bi-district
  • With their bi-district win, the Decatur Eagles met Dallas Roosevelt Friday for an area title. Roosevelt finished third in the powerhouse 11-3A. All four teams in the league cruised to victories in the first round, including fourth-seed Wilmer Hutchins beating 12-3A champion Melissa 54-43
  • The 12-3A district includes the second seed Triple A Academy, which after winning the Class A title last year, asked to move into the league to replace Prime Prep – the Deion Sanders charter school that left the UIL last year. Monday, the UIL overturned a 12-3A Executive Committee ruling that called for Triple A to forfeit four league games for not using registered officials. Those forfeits would have made Triple A, ranked fourth in 3A, the fourth seed in the league instead of second
  • When the UIL made the decision to allow four teams from each of the 2A and 3A districts into the playoffs, there was some grumbling. But fourth seeds didn’t quite embarrass themselves against district champions on the boys and girls sides. Ten fourth seeds in the two classes, including 9-2A’s Millsap, won in bi-district. In the girls playoffs, only six fourth seeds in the divisions advanced and four made the region quarterfinals
  • Track season began for several area schools this week. Northwest actually went to its first meet Feb. 15. The Texans and Lady Texans will be an attraction all year with their talented squads that feature three Division I signees – Zach Kirkland (North Texas), Kellee McCann (Syracuse) and Desiree Freier (Arkansas)
  • Freier spent last weekend in New York with some of track’s biggest names and won the girls pole vault at the prestigious Milrose Games with a vault of 14 feet
  • It’s been fun to see SMU’s strong season on the hardwood under Larry Brown. I’ve never understood why with the amount of talent in the Metroplex that the area’s four Division I schools – TCU, SMU, North Texas and UT-Arlington – have not become perennial tournament teams.

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