GONZALES — Gonzales Head Coach Sam White and his team knew state-ranked La Vernia would come out swinging.
“They’re a great team, there’s no doubt,” he said of the Lady Bears. “We knew it was going to be a tough battle from the moment they walked into our gym. We’ve been scouting them and preparing for them.”
“They swing hard,” he continued. “And they put the ball down into the court. I think we were there. Many times our girls were right where they needed to be. We just got to get faster.”
The Lady Apaches opened District 30-4A play with a three-set loss, (25-17, 25-15, 15-20) to La Vernia, though the team saw many positives to take from losing in what White described as “one of the hardest fought three-game series against La Vernia,” he’s seen in his five years of being in Gonzales.
“They’re just playing with heart,” White said of his team. “Every week we have a different theme, a different focus. This week was playing with heart. It’s district. We’re in a tough district. Every game is important. Every point is important. Every day of practice is important. They just play with a lot of heart and a lot of effort tonight.”
Each set started out with some back-and-forth, until La Vernia rallied together multiple points to take insurmountable leads.
In the first set, the game was tied at 9-9 before La Vernia went on an 8-1 run, never letting go of the lead. The second set saw more of the same, with the Lady Apaches down 13-11, La Vernia went off a 10-2 run. The third set, the score was 12-10 in favor of La Vernia, before the Lady Bears took a 10-2 run again, going up 22-12 before the Lady Apaches strung together a couple of points.
“We just got to be able to read the play a little quicker,” White said of his defense. “And I think we would have been right there. Overall I’m really proud. I think they played with heart and a lot of enthusiasm [Tuesday].”
The heart showed in what would be the final set. Down 24-15, the Lady Apaches battled back, forcing La Vernia to make uncharacteristic mistakes on the court. Two blocks and a kill later from Hayley Sample, the Lady Apaches would cut the lead to 24-20.
The Lady Bears eventually won with a spike, but the five-point burst highlighted the potential the team has.
“I told them in the locker room, ‘if you play Cuero like this, [Cuero] are in store for a long night,’” White said.
The head coach highlighted many players on court, including Maura Garcia who came away with three kills, Kiley Allen, who White said “commanded the offense,” libero Sam Barnick, senior Chelsie Hastings with five kills and two aces and many other bench players like sub-varsity callup McKenzie Lockwood who had some minutes in the first set.
“Everybody has to contribute in some way,” White said. “I pulled up Lockwood — you got to use her height. She’s 6 feet, 3 inches. She’s just young. Doesn’t have the experience that the others do, but she’s learning. I’ve seen tremendous improvement in her volleyball skills.”
The team will rely on their depth moving forward in order to get those all-important district wins.
The Lady Apaches travel to Cuero on Friday with a scheduled game at 7:30 p.m. before hosting Navarro on Tuesday with a game at 6 p.m.