College Station Volleyball Team Advances to Regional SemifinalsSports Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
Story by Larry Bowen
CAMERON — The College Station volleyball team demonstrated its depth and desire Tuesday night, rolling past ninth-ranked Lorena in the Class 3A regional quarterfinals.
College Station used key contributions from nearly every member of the lineup to defeat the Lady Leopards 25-19, 25-18, 25-20 in the third-round match at Cameron Yoe’s gym. The Lady Cougars (28-16) earned a berth in the four-team 3A Region III tournament set for Friday and Saturday at Bryan’s Viking Gym.
It will be the second consecutive regional appearance for College Station, a school that opened last fall and still doesn’t have seniors. The Lady Cougars, within two victories of the state tournament, will play Tarkington or Hamshire-Fannett on Friday in the regional semifinals.
Lorena, the District 17-3A champion, finished the season at 37-10. The Lady Leopards were bidding for their second regional berth in the last three years.
College Station, the 18-3A champion, will enter the regional tournament with a healthy offense. The Lady Cougars controlled Tuesday’s match with tremendous depth with usual hitting leaders Mary Pettibon and Rachel Nelson being joined in the balanced attack by Kassidy McCabe, Alex Bowden and Sarah Hancock.
“We had great passes and great sets,” McCabe said. “Everybody was on fire, and eventually the energy of somebody doing good just spreads. It’s kind of like a virus.”
McCabe, a sophomore middle blocker, helped the Lady Cougars start fast with three of her six kills early in the opening game. Sophomore outside hitter Hancock delivered six of her seven kills in the first two games, when junior middle blocker Bowden added four kills.
That balance prevented Lorena from ganging up against sophomore middle blocker Pettibon, who led the Lady Cougars with 11 kills. Nelson, a junior, contributed seven kills.
“We’ve worked all season on being able to have more than one or two hitters,” College Station head coach Stephanie Cone said. “I think that’s very important going to the next stage of the playoffs. We’ve worked every one of our players into pressure situations where they have to be the one to make the kill.”
College Station worked a tip drill into Monday’s practice, with the coaching staff believing soft shots would pay off against Lorena. It worked, as the Lady Cougars scored 13 points on dink shots. Bowden dropped several into open territory, while setters Haley Wagner and Keaton Schrank both found openings in the middle of the court.
“We worked for the first time all season on tips at practice yesterday,” Cone said. “We knew they put up a big block and they have great defense, but if we could get a couple of tips to fall we could put them out of their comfort zone.”
The Lady Cougars also played terrific defense, with freshman libero Brady Gillum delivering 16 digs and junior defensive specialist Natalie Colunga making nine. Two rallies midway through Game 1 demonstrated what Lorena faced. Twice in a span of four points, Gillum came up with huge digs, allowing Schrank to set Nelson and Pettibon for kills.
That flurry came as College Station took control with a 9-4 run that made it 17-11. Lorena got no closer than four points the rest of the way.
College Station led most of the second game. Lorena pulled within 20-17, but the Lady Cougars won six of the next seven points, a stretch that started with a dink by Wagner and ended on a kill from Hancock.
Game 3 was tied at 17-17, but College Station went on a 7-1 burst fueled by three ace serves from Pettibon.
Story courtesy of brazossports.com
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