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Lady Eagles dethrone Needville, win third state title

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, November 17, 2018.
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All season long, the Decatur Lady Eagles have overcome bouts of adversity.

In the 4A Region I final, Decatur dug out of a 1-0 hole to knock off Glen Rose. In the 4A semifinal Friday, the Lady Eagles fended off a furious Melissa rally.

Saturday against Needville, Decatur was presented one final challenge. After blowing a 20-15 lead in the second set, the Lady Eagles fell behind 9-3 in the pivotal third game. Needing one more rally, Decatur came together when it mattered most.

Messenger photo by Lisa Duty.

“That’s been our season almost to a ‘T’,” said Decatur coach Clark Oberle. “We’ve had ups and we’ve had downs, but we always manage to come back with an up after the down. I talked about it yesterday how we’ve come together as a team. We’ve learned we can trust each other. If one person is struggling, someone else is going to pick up the slack. That’s exactly what happened today.”

The Lady Eagles made an 8-2 run to tie the third set at 11 and survived a late surge by the Lady Jays to take a 2-1 lead. With momentum on its side, Decatur wasted little time putting the match away.

Freshman Jentry Lamirand put the finishing touches on the Lady Eagles’ third state title with a kill in the fourth set that sent Decatur into a frenzy.

For the first time since 2014, the Lady Eagles claimed the class 4A state title, dethroning defending champion Needville 25-12, 21-25, 27-25, 25-18 at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland.

“A lot of people saw us as the underdog today, but I told our kids before we went on the floor that we weren’t the underdog,” Oberle said. “They played like champions today.”

Messenger photo by Joe Duty.

Decatur quickly took control of the match, opening the first set on an 11-3 run. Needville burned both of its timeouts to try and regroup, but a lift call gave the Lady Eagles a 1-0 lead.

Needville coach Amy Schultz said her team’s slow start was a product of miscues.

“It just wasn’t our day,” Schultz said. “We don’t normally play that way. For some reason we did. We made a lot of errors we don’t normally make. At this level, you can’t do that.”

Eight different players recorded kills for Decatur in the win. Sophomore Trinity Vinzant led the Lady Eagles in kills with 13. She hit .286.

Freshman Kota Hartman and senior Satasha Kostlecky each had eight. Lamirand buried seven and Madison Lowery added five. Tayte Helton and Bayli Miller had one apiece.

Sophomore setter Makenna Gantt finished second on the team with nine kills. She hit .350, dished out 16 assists and made three blocks. Her performance earned her MVP honors for the 4A title game.

Messenger photo by Joe Duty.

“She’s one of the few kids that has to do a little bit of everything,” Oberle said. “She has to be a setter. She has to be a server. She’s got to be a defender and she has to be a hitter.

“For a young [player] like her, she stepped up big and made some big points when we needed it.”

Decatur finishes the season 38-11 overall. It is Oberle’s second career state title. He and senior libero Alyssa Wallace won the 4A championship in 2015 at Argyle.

Wallace played in the state tournament all four years she was in high school, winning the title her freshman and senior years.

For Kostelecky, the senior middle blocker ends her career at Decatur with over 1,000 kills, and now — a state championship.

“It’s surreal. It hasn’t hit me yet,” Kostelecky said. “I wouldn’t want to share this experience with any other team. I love them so much.”

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