STOCKDALE -- Nixon-Smiley needed a district tie-breaking game to do so, but after beating Karnes City (25-15, 25-17, 20-25, 25-13), the Lady Mustangs are in the volleyball playoffs for the first time since 2009. Nixon-Smiley used their aggressiveness up front as well as their ability to chase down errant balls to overwhelm the Lady Badgers in Sets 1, 2 and 4.
“After that final point, I told the girls, ‘hey, I told you all season long, we’re never going to win a game playing soft, you got to play aggressive. And tonight you came out and you played aggressive and you hustled your butts off to get this victory,’” Nixon-Smiley head coach Tara Wyrwich said.
Earlier in the year, the head coach mentioned the team was too timid, opting for tips and pushes instead of swinging for kills. But Friday in the tiebreaker, the Lady Mustangs attacked and it paid off, with Autumn Rodriguez, Katy Tschoepe, Abby Fox and Cheyenne Koehler all coming away with kills. The attacks were set up by Christiana Ramirez while the Lady Mustangs had numerous digs throughout the game.
“We have a lot of leadership on this team,” Wyrwich said. “But it rolls downhill, everybody takes a part in this team. I told them time and time again that it takes everybody. We have 12 girls. It doesn’t matter if they’re on the court or they’re on the bench, it takes every single one of us. Without one of them, we have a hole in our team. We all have an important role.”
The Lady Mustangs lost in the third set, going down 8-1 and never being able to overcome the hole. But the team then took over in the fourth set, going up 11-3, then later 18-9, the largest lead of the set. Multiple Lady Mustangs dove for balls, keeping them in play, which proved to be the difference in the game.
“We’re very scrappy and I think this year our devotion, our heart, we are not going to let balls just fall,” Wyrwich explained. “All year long we’ve ran ball downs and put them back into play when everybody thought the play was going to be over. It’s been a great journey. I told them the journey doesn’t end here. We’re looking forward to the playoffs.”
After beating Karnes City to take fourth out of District 27-3A, the Lady Mustangs have a quick turnaround, having to face Industrial, the winners of District 28-3A.
“Our next opponent is going to be tough, but like I said, we’ve been working all season long for this playoff spot right here,” Wyrwich said. “We’re not going to let down, we’re going to fight, we’re going to go all out and keep preparing for this game.”
Nixon-Smiley faces Industrial in the bi-district round on Monday, Nov. 4, at Victoria West. Game time is set for 7 p.m.