Waddell column: Teamwork propels Lady Eagles to state tournament

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, November 10, 2018.
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As the 4A Region I trophy was passed around Saturday afternoon inside the Hardin-Simmons University gym, emotions were running high for the girls in the blue jerseys.

After a grueling region final match with No. 7 Glen Rose, the Lady Eagles finally got a chance to catch their breath. Some shed tears, some hugged family members or teammates — but all of them celebrated.

They deserved to.

For the first time since winning the Class 4A title in 2014, Decatur advanced to the state tournament, taking home the Region I title.  Like they have done virtually all season, the Lady Eagles got clutch performances from just about everyone on their roster to reach their goal of making the trip to Garland.

Messenger photo by Joe Duty.

“We talk about having a [complete team effort] a lot,” said Decatur coach Clark Oberle. “We have 16 kids suited up for that, and a manager and a video person. Everybody has to do something to contribute to the team — whether it’s finding a tendency in their offense, finding a weakness in their defense or just being a spark plug on the bench. I think everybody did that [Saturday].”

Oberle was right.

Everyone contributed — and then some.

Senior Satasha Kostelecky led the team with 12 kills. Sophomore Trinity Vinzant landed 10 kills and freshman Jentry Lamirand was second with 11.

In Decatur’s region semifinal and final matches Friday and Saturday, Lamirand buried a combined 20 kills.

“It’s so impressive,” said Decatur senior Alyssa Wallace of Lamirand. “She is definitely a huge part of this team. I always feel like I can count on her. If I have an out-of-system set, she can put the ball down.”

But Wallace has made quite the impact herself, leading Decatur on the back row and at the service line all year. Saturday against Glen Rose, she was once again the catalyst behind several long runs for the Lady Eagles.

Reece Waddell

The former Argyle all-district libero made 26 digs and dished out six assists to help propel Decatur to the state tournament.

“Alyssa has made an amazing impact this year,” Kostelecky said. “I’m so happy that she moved to Decatur. She’s helped us so much, from the service line and defense. She’s been huge.”

Lamirand echoed Kostelecky’s thoughts, adding Wallace has helped mentor her this season.

“She is amazing,” Lamirand said. “I look back and I’m like ‘dang it, that’s a point for them,’ and then I see Alyssa and I’m like ‘where did she come from?’ She passes it perfect. She’s a great person and a great leader for us.”

Even down to their setters, who have been impressive all year, Decatur got a complete effort from every player wearing blue Saturday in Abilene. The Lady Eagles’ two setters, Makenna Gantt and Bayli Miller, combined for 34 assists in the region final, executing Decatur’s offense nearly flawlessly.

It’s taken a total team effort to get the Lady Eagles to Garland, and they’re confident it can help them win the gold medal, too.

“I think we’re the best team in the state and I think we’re going to bring it home,” Kostelecky said.

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