Terri Wade and her 2016 Woodlands Lady Highlanders “Heart & Hustle” volleyball team traveled to Aggieland to kick off their season by sweeping the College Station Lady Cougars, 25-20, 25-15, 25-22 on Tuesday night.
As was the case for much of the 2015 season, The Woodlands (1-0) got off to a slow start in falling behind 18-11 in the first set but then went on a 14-2 run on the strength of 11 assists by veteran setter, Sophie Walls to close out the first stanza. Georgia Murphy toed the line for six straight points during the opening set comeback.
The Lady Highlanders fell behind College Station (0-1) again in the second set but the caffeine kicked in a bit earlier this time and they never trailed after a Walls no look dump followed by a Walls to Sydney Jackson connection put The Woodlands up 7-6. Walls set up A.J. Koele six times in the set culminating in the set winner. Libero, Mia Primavera figured prominently early on as she sacrificed her body three times by sprawling out on the court keeping the lady Highlanders in points.
The Woodlands was ready to breeze through the third set in going up 16-6 as Walls hooked up Courtney Heiser and newcomer Dylan Maberry for a combined seven kills. However, the Lady Cougars were having none of it as they rattled off eight straight points to jump back in the set. Haley Hines and Bailey Bennett led the comeback for College Station.
Maberry stopped the bleeding with an emphatic comebacker at 17-14 and the Lady Highlanders were eventually able to close out the match on a Jackson laser beam made possible by yet another picture-perfect feed from Walls.
Second-year head coach Wade was happy with her team’s effort,
“It was great to start the season with a win tonight. The team definitely needs some more time playing together. We have a lot of strong individual players and although there are several returners, it’s a new team. This year’s theme ‘Highlander Hustle and Heart,’ came from an inspirational quote, “hustle and heart set us apart.” I thought it was perfect for this team. I believe teams can win games with just that. We have a lot of talent but when you add in the hustle and heart, we could beat teams that are more skilled than us. Tonight’s match started off slow, and it will take some time to find our chemistry, but it’s hard to stop a team that wants to win. My returning players have definitely set that tone.”
Walls had 38 assists on the night to go along with seven digs, three kills, a block and an ace. Primavera had 17 digs and nine assists. However, her excellent court generalship in helping to lead the team can not be found on any stat sheet. Koele had 13 kills as she’s hitting the ball better than ever. A.J. also had three digs and four huge blocks. Maberry had 12 kills, four digs and two blocks. Someone forgot to tell Dylan she’s just a freshman. Heiser had eight kills on the evening. Murphy dug out 11 and had two assists and two aces. Jackson had five kills and a block and if someone gets in front of one of Sydney’s slams, call 911. Caroline Fowler made her presence known on the big club with six assists and three digs. Skylar Scott was as solid as can be with 12 digs as she has an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time. Brinley Cuadra contributed a kill as she saw some valuable PT. Kayce Wright had two digs, two assists and a kill. Ally Haden and Dayna Drake fill out the Lady Highlander roster.
The Woodlands has three brand new assistant coaches and we’ll be introducing them in the first three volleyball articles. First up, it is our pleasure to introduce you to Randi K. Rascoe:
“I graduated from The Woodlands High School in 2009 and played four years of softball during my time there. After TWHS, I went to Angelina College where I played two years of softball. I finished college at Sam Houston and majored in History with a minor in Secondary Education. My teaching and coaching career began at Hudson High School where I spent two years coaching softball and basketball.
My parents still reside in The Woodlands. My older sister, Sidney, is married with two precious twin one year olds. Shelbie, a 2016 TWHS grad, will be attending A&M Galveston in the fall.
I decided to coach and teach mostly for the same reasons. Growing up, I was not the smartest in the classroom and I wasn’t the best on the field BUT I had teachers and coaches who motivated me to be better. They taught me that hard work, a positive attitude and a kind spirit can get you a really long way. Most importantly, they taught me how to be a better human being. Since high school, I knew I wanted to impact young people in the same manner that certain coaches and teachers impacted me.”
The Lady Highlanders (1-0) play in the Katy/Cy-Fair Nike Invitational on Thursday through Saturday.