Capturing the District 7-4A volleyball championship was probably a foregone conclusion for 15th-ranked Stephenville on Parents Night Tuesday evening in Gandy Gym. The Honeybees, who have now won nine consecutive matches and 14 of their last 15, put away Mineral Wells — which has yet to win a district match.
But SHS head coach Shay Douglas is looking beyond that 25-12, 25-11, 25-12 win over a Lady Rams squad that is winless in district play. The Honeybees will be paired against the fourth-place team out of District 8-4A — either Bridgeport or Krum — when the competition level ramps up beginning with the first (bi-district) round of the playoffs, on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
“Tonight, I don’t think we played well,” said Douglas, whose team is now 31-9 overall and has an open date Friday before finishing district play at Brownwood Tuesday, Oct. 29 (varsity at 4:30 p.m.). “I think we did the bare minimum to get the ‘W’. We’ve got to do a better job of respecting our opponents and coming out and taking care of the ball.
“We had a lot more hitting errors than we’ve had probably all season in the match, and serving errors in the match. So we need to clean that up and I think we will. We know we’ve got a big game on Tuesday. We’ve got to prepare for the playoffs. We’ve got to finish out district and get better.”
The Honeybees are 7-0 in league play, while runner-up Brownwood entered Friday’s play at 4-2. Godley is third at 3-4, followed by 2-4 Glen Rose and 0-6 Mineral Wells.
This is the second straight playoff berth and first district title for the Honeybees in their two seasons of being coached by Douglas, who was an all-state and all-academic performer on the only volleyball state championship team in SHS history. That was in 2003 under former head coach Fran Metzger. Douglas went on to be a two-time all-conference volleyball player at Tarleton State University and was later for the SHS Athletic Hall of Fame.
Douglas had five playoff teams in her eight seasons as a head coach before coming back to Stephenville after stints at Troy and Giddings. She guided the Bees to the third round of the playoffs last season before being eliminated by eventual state champion Decatur and finishing with a 29-18 record.
SHS senior libero Gabie Lucero, who was voted by the district coaches as Defensive Player of the Year last season, said that the team chemistry has been a key factor in their current winning trend.
“We have a really close bond that really helps us,” Lucero said. “We love each other a lot, and we love putting in the work. As the season goes on, we get closer. It’s very fun to win, but it’s even more fun playing together as a team.”
Douglas noted that Lucero, who sat out the previous game with an ankle injury, is almost back to 100 percent physically, along with Landri Withers who also has been recovering from a minor injury.
Key statistical leaders for SHS in the win over Mineral Wells were:
Blocked shots — Aubreyanna Ziegler 4, Landri Withers 2.
Aces — Karlee Easterling 6, Salette Rios 5.
Kills — Landri Withers 8, Aubreyanna Ziegler 7.
Assists — Karlee Easterling 17, Kennedy Coffee 8.
Digs — Karlee Easterling 7, Gabie Lucero 7, Salette Rios 7.
Once more, the sub-varsity teams made it a clean program sweep over a district foe for SHS. The junior varsity girls topped the Lady Rams 25-18, 25-16, and the junior varsity also won, 25-21, 25-20.