Posted on 25 November 2014.
4A REGION I BI-DISTRICT
DECATUR DEF. VENUS
Starting the postseason portion of their state title defense, the Decatur Lady Eagles looked in championship form.
Behind merciless hitting, brilliant decision-making and pinpoint serving, the Lady Eagles dispatched Venus in three sets, 25-6, 25-3, 25-7, in their Class 4A Region I Bi-district match at Chisholm Trail High School.
“We wanted to come out focused, have fun and set a tone for how we’re going to play in the playoffs,” said senior hitter Makayla Mayfield, who led the team with 12 kills.
Playing the fourth-place team from District 7-4A, Decatur (34-10) never let underdog Venus (18-20) in the match. Venus scored back-to-back points only four times.
“I feel every match we’ve got to get better,” said Decatur coach Claire Benedict-Gay. “That’s the mentality we have to keep.”
Offensively, Decatur buried 43 kills. Setter Stormi Leonard worked the ball around with six different players registering kills. Courtnie Roberts put down 11. Caroline Lowery added eight and Cooper Martin seven.
“All of our offense got some swings,” Benedict-Gay said. “We’ve worked hard in practice moving the ball around. It’s good to see that carry over from practice.”
The Lady Eagles would have had more kills if their serving hadn’t been so sharp. Decatur finished with 12 aces. Martin led the way with four. Mayfield added three.
“Our serving was consistent,” Mayfield said. “We kept the ball in play.”
With back-to-back kills from Emily Oxford and a finisher from Martin, Decatur jumped out to a 12-2 lead in the opening set.
The Lady Eagles’ lead grew to 23-4 with a Martin block and kill. The set ended on a Venus error.
Martin’s second ace in a 10-point stretch gave Decatur a 13-1 lead to start the second game. After a pair of Venus points, Mayfield put down a kill and then went to the service line. She served out the final 11 points, ending the set with an ace.
Mayfield served the first five points in the third game with Leonard’s kill making it 5-0.
Maclaine Lowery’s two aces put Decatur up 13-6. Venus scored just one more point in the match. Roberts and Mayfield took turns burying shots in a closing 9-0 run. Leonard ended the match with a block – her fourth of the night.
WINNING FEELING -Decatur’s Stormi Leonard celebrates a point with her teammates during the Lady Eagles’ sweep of Venus. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty
4A REGION I AREA
DECATUR DEF. IOWA PARK
The Decatur Lady Eagles continued their defense of last year’s state championship with a solid 25-5, 25-16, 25-8 win over Iowa Park in the Class 4A Region I area match at Jacksboro.
Decatur (32-9) led 15-4 in the first game before Iowa Park was able to put a kill on the floor. After a missed serve, Caroline Lowery went to the serving line for Decatur, and the Lady Eagles scored the next 10 points unanswered.
Lowery had an ace, Makayla Mayfield and Emily Oxford had kills, and Cooper Martin dinked one in – but several points also came on blocks as the Lady Hawks had no answer for Decatur’s lineup at the net.
In the second set, things got a little more interesting as Decatur had a few lapses in communication that allowed balls to fall in.
Decatur jumped up 7-1 early, but Iowa Park kept hanging around. It was 16-6 when a long pause in the action to discuss an Iowa Park substitution seemed to throw the Lady Eagles off their rhythm.
After Mayfield landed a kill, a Decatur block went out of bounds, then a serve went long. It was 22-10 when Decatur missed a dig, Iowa Park landed a dink and Decatur let an easy ball drop.
Iowa Park blocked a kill, then Decatur was called in the net on a kill and it was 22-15, with lots of excitement on the Iowa Park side.
But when Martin pounded a kill to the floor, Lowery went back to the serving line at 23-15.
After a kill by Iowa Park, Mayfield answered with a hard cross-court kill from the side to end the rally.
The third set started with a long rally that ended when Martin put down on another kill. It was 4-2 before successive kills by Courtnie Roberts, Mayfield and then Roberts again prompted an Iowa Park timeout.
The Decatur girls went on an 11-1 tear to finish off the match, led by Mayfield, Martin, Lowery and Roberts. Setter Stormi Leonard ended the contest with a patented dink shot that made it to the floor.
Leonard finished with 33 assists to go with her six digs, a kill, an ace and a block.
Mayfield had a strong match at the net with 20 kills. She also had nine digs and two blocks. Martin put down 10 kills to go with four digs, a block and an ace.
Maclaine Lowery made 20 digs as Decatur defended most of Iowa Park’s hits at the net. She also served two aces.
Caroline Lowery finished with six kills, six digs and four aces. Roberts put down five kills and had three blocks and three digs.
Oxford had two kills and a block, and Taylor Uselton had a dig.
4A REGION I REGION QUARTERFINAL
DECATUR DEF. STEPHENVILLE
Tested at the net by Stephenville’s hitters, the Decatur Lady Eagles simply refused to let the ball hit the floor.
The Lady Eagles made 52 digs, turning aside Stephenville shots. Decatur then finished points with near-pinpoint accuracy from multiple hitters to sweep the Class 4A Region I quarterfinal, 25-17, 25-12, 25-14, at Weatherford High School.
“We knew we’d have to play our ‘A’ game, and we tried to be as scrappy as we could,” said Decatur senior Cooper Martin, who put down 14 kills, blocked two shots, made seven digs and served four aces.
Decatur responded to a strong Stephenville attack led by Morgan Gibson, who registered a team-high 10 kills, with solid blocking at the net and determination to keep the ball in play. Emily Oxford made five of the Lady Eagles’ eight blocks.
Makayla Mayfield led a trio of Decatur players in double figures in digs with 14. Maclaine Lowery had 11 and Caroline Lowery 10.
“They were very aggressive and had some good hitters who were putting the ball in some spots we weren’t used to playing,” said Decatur coach Claire Benedict-Gay. “We adjusted to their hitters and played good defense.”
The Stephenville defense had few answers for the Decatur offense that put down 48 kills and hit .433 for the match. Six different Lady Eagles registered kills, with Mayfield and Martin finishing with 14 apiece. Caroline Lowery added nine and Courtnie Roberts five.
“Everyone across the net stepped up,” Benedict-Gay said. “That’s our strength – having several people who can put the ball down. Stormi [Leonard] did a great job spreading the ball around.”
Leonard handed out 38 assists and called her own number three times.
In the first set after Stephenville had rallied to cut Decatur’s six-point advantage to two at 15-13, Leonard called Caroline Lowery’s number to put the end to the run. Martin then put down four of her six kills in the set to put the Lady Eagles up 21-16. Martin wore Stephenville’s defense out, hitting down the line.
“That’s my favorite shot,” Martin said.
Mayfield and Lowery tips ended the set.
Lowery landed back-to-back aces to get Decatur out to a 7-3 lead in the second set. Decatur finished with nine aces on the night and served at a 90.3 clip.
Three kills from Martin in four points put the Lady Eagles up 19-10. Mayfield then finished off the set with a kill.
Decatur fell behind in the third set 6-4 on a Codi Beyer ace. Mayfield landed back-to-back kills to even the game and send Decatur on a 13-2 run to build a 17-8 advantage.
After Roberts’ kill put the Lady Eagles at match point, Mayfield finished it off.
4A REGION I SEMIFINAL
DECATUR DEF. BIG SPRING
The Decatur Lady Eagles struggled to break out of an early slumber against Big Spring until Caroline Lowery delivered a wake-up call late in the first set.
Lowery punished back-to-back kills to put Decatur (37-10) in front 18-17. The Lady Eagles never trailed again on the way to a sweep of Big Spring in the 4A Region I semifinal at The Coliseum in Snyder.
“We weren’t expecting them to come out with as much fire. We knew they wanted to beat us after last year,” said Lowery, who finished with 12 kills, two aces and 1.5 blocks. “Once we got calm, everything came together.”
Decatur won 25-19, 25-13, 25-14, making a region final for a third straight year.
Decatur defeated Big Spring last year in the 3A semifinal in three sets. Big Spring looked determined early for a different outcome behind the hitting of junior middle blocker Erin Pollard, who put down three early kills. She finished with eight.
Decatur also helped Big Spring early with three service errors and four hitting errors.
With her team down 14-12, Decatur coach Claire Benedict-Gay called a timeout.
“This team feels pressure, like they have a statement to make,” said Benedict-Gay. “It took them a second to calm down and realize that they can control their side of the net.”
Even after the timeout, Decatur trailed until Lowery buried a kill with a big swing. Decatur setter Stormi Leonard immediately went back to Lowery for another kill to put the Lady Eagles in front.
“She definitely stepped up and made some great shots,” Benedict-Gay said. “She’s just a fighter. It’s been a few matches since I’ve seen that level from her. It’s good to see.”
Decatur ran off nine of the final 11 points in the set. Makayla Mayfield’s kill put the Lady Eagles at game point. Lowery’s ace finished off the set.
Lowery started the second set with a kill and then extended the Lady Eagles’ lead to 4-1 with a blast to the center of the floor.
“Our mentality was to crush them,” Lowery said. “We wanted to keep pushing them down and didn’t want them to come back.”
Two Courtnie Roberts blocks and one from Lowery stretched Decatur’s advantage to 15-8.
A Leonard ace made it game point. Mayfield then finished off the set with one of her nine kills.
Sensing a chance for the sweep, Decatur jumped to a 10-3 lead in the third set on a Roberts ace.
Decatur finished with eight aces and served at 87.8 percent.
The Decatur advantage grew to 10, 24-14, on a Cooper Martin kill. Martin put down 12 of the Lady Eagles’ 39 kills. Decatur hit .330 for the match.
Stormi Leonard dished out 31 assists.
Her final assist on the left side allowed Lowery to appropriately end the match with a kill off the Big Spring block.
VICTORY – Cooper Martin pumps her fist as her teammates cheer in the background. Martin downed a dozen of the Lady Eagles’ 39 kills against Big Spring. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty
4A REGION I FINAL
DECATUR DEF. BUSHLAND
In the clash of defending state champions, the Decatur Lady Eagles absorbed the first body blows from Bushland and middle blocker Anna Graham.
But the Lady Eagles (39-10) quickly got off the canvas after dropping the first set, making adjustments and beginning to land their own punches. Behind the clutch hitting of Caroline Lowery and Makayla Mayfield, they took the final three sets and the Class 4A Region I Final at Western Texas College’s The Coliseum in Snyder.
Decatur won 19-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-17.
“They came out with fire, and we were a little nervous because we knew it was only one game to state,” said Lowery, who was named the 4A Region I tournament MVP after putting down 16 kills in the final. “We worried too much about what they were doing [in the first set] instead of what we needed to do. After that, we started to play our game.”
Bushland (37-5), last year’s 2A champions, had the Lady Eagles on the ropes early behind Graham, who buried 17 kills from the middle of the floor.
“Their middle blocker was phenomenal. That’s something we’ve not seen,” Leonard said. “That’s not the game we play, and it’s something we’re not used to.”
Decatur also struggled to handle Bushland’s serving and to get a good pass to get into its offense.
Bushland took the lead 13-12 on the first of two Decatur service errors in the opening set. That started a 6-0 run for the Lady Falcons.
Bushland captured the set on another Decatur service error.
After dropping their first set in a while, Decatur rebounded quickly.
“From our tough preseason, we played some really tough teams that pushed us, and we knew what it was like to be in the situation – to be down and have to come back,” Lowery said.
Mayfield put Decatur up 6-3 with a big swing in the second set. The Lady Eagles then got their two middles, Courtnie Roberts and Emily Oxford, involved in the offense, putting down kills around another from Mayfield to put Decatur up 10-4.
Mayfield finished the second set with a kill.
Decatur jumped out to a 5-0 lead in set three and took a 16-7 advantage on a Mayfield kill that bounced off a Bushland defender and nearly made it into the stands.
Mayfield finished the set with one of her 18 kills.
With a state berth in sight, Decatur took a 12-6 lead in set four on a Roberts block. A Roberts kill made it 19-10.
Lowery increased the lead to 23-16. Two Bushland hitting errors closed the match – and sent the Lady Eagles back to state.
4A STATE SEMIFINAL
DECATUR DEF. ROBINSON
In their return to the state stage, the Decatur Lady Eagles looked right at home Friday afternoon.
Behind pinpoint serving and a versatile attack, the Lady Eagles dispatched Robinson in the 4A semifinals of the University Interscholastic League volleyball championships at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland.
Decatur won 25-18 25-19 25-7. The Lady Eagles moved to 3-0 and have won nine straight games at the state tournament in the past two years.
The bright state lights had little effect on the Lady Eagles.
In the third set, the Lady Eagles put Robinson away with five of their nine aces. Lowery and Makayla Mayfield served two each. Cooper Martin buried four kills.
“We had a game plan coming in. We wanted to make sure we attacked at the pins and wanted to keep them out of system with our serving,” said Decatur coach Claire Benedict-Gay.
Decatur had just one service error in the match.
Lowery and Courtnie Roberts served three aces each.
Decatur jumped out to a 15-5 lead on Stormi Leonard’s lone kill. A Lowery ace made it 20-4. After a pair of Robinson points at match point, Mayfield ended the match with her 15th kill.
Decatur put down 42 kills, hitting .323 for the match. The Lady Eagles hit .500, putting down 13 of their 24 chances in the final set.
Martin finished with 12 kills and Lowery nine. Leonard doled out 37 assists.
Defensively, the Lady Eagles made 53 digs and limited Robinson’s Bailey Meggs to seven kills on 34 attacks. Maclaine Lowery made 17 digs and Leonard 15.
Decatur used a 9-2 run early in the first set to take an 11-5 lead on a Caroline Lowery ace. The Lady Eagles maintained the edge, taking the game by seven.
The Lady Eagles again jumped out to an early advantage in the second set, 5-1, on a Mayfield ace and Robinson error. Robinson never got closer than four the rest of the game.
Down 2-0, Robinson had no answer in game three.
Season Record: 40-10
8-4A record: 8-0
Playoffs record: 7-0
Azle … 25-15, 25-19, 25-10
Joshua … 25-14, 25-12, 25-17
Round Rock McNeil … 25-20, 25-22
Houston Bellaire … 23-25, 25-18, 25-16
League City Clear Falls … 22-25, 15-25
Leander Rouse … 25-23, 25-19
Lewisville Marcus … 25-16, 25-18
Austin Westlake … 25-13, 25-23
Pearland … 19-25, 18-25
San Antonio Alamo Heights … 25-23, 19-25, 9-15
Aledo … 20-25, 25-20, 20-25, 25-18, 6-15
Hereford … 25-18, 20-25, 25-13
North Richland Hills Birdville … 25-18, 25-16
Arlington Lamar … 25-20, 25-20
Saginaw Boswell … 25-15, 25-19
Prosper … 21-25, 25-20, 23-25
Frisco Wakeland … 25-18, 25-23
Waco Midway … 23-25, 25-21, 25-17
Rockwall Heath … 19-25, 12-25
Brock … 25-15, 25-21, 25-18
Allen … 23-25, 25-23, 25-15
Prosper … 26-24, 20-25, 15-25
Garland Sachse … 25-14, 25-19
Grapevine … 25-14, 25-16
Austin Westlake … 22-25, 25-17, 25-27
Prosper … 25-20, 20-25, 13-25
Keller Fossil Ridge … 25-18, 25-22, 25-18
Fort Worth Chisholm Trail … 25-8, 25-12, 23-25, 25-8
Denton Ryan … 25-18, 25-12, 25-16
Coppell … 12-25, 21-25, 22-25
Abilene Wylie … 25-15, 25-13, 25-20
Argyle … 25-20, 21-25, 25-18, 26-24
Lake Worth … 25-6, 25-10, 25-10
Mansfield Legacy … 25-11, 25-10, 25-16
Castleberry … 25-5, 25-0, 25-4
Bridgeport … 25-5, 25-9, 25-4
Springtown … 25-9, 25-16, 25-13
Lake Worth … 25-6, 25-12, 25-5
Grapevine … 25-20, 25-11, 25-18
Castleberry … 25-6, 25-7, 25-9
Bridgeport … 25-9, 25-5, 25-4
Springtown … 25-13, 25-7, 25-11
Aledo … 25-22, 25-18, 25-15
Venus … 25-6, 25-3, 25-7
Iowa Park … 25-5, 25-16, 25-8
Stephenville … 25-17, 25-12, 25-14
REGION I TOURNAMENT
Big Spring … 25-19, 25-13, 25-14
Bushland … 19-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-17
Robinson … 25-18, 25-19, 25-7
Argyle … 25-14, 27-29, 26-24, 25-19