Pine Tree Recovers From Slow Start To Earn Four-Game Bi-District Win Over Corsicana
TYLER -- The Pine Tree Lady Pirates entered Tuesday night's Class 5A Region II bi-district playoff match against Corsicana as the prohibitive favorite. But after the opening set, all bets were off.
Pine Tree recovered from a Game 1 loss for a 19-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-15 victory over Corsicana at Tyler Junior College's Wagstaff Gymnasium, which advanced the 20th-ranked Lady Pirates (28-12) into the area round.
"I was pleased with our first playoff game," said second-year Pine Tree coach Carolee Musick. "We just wanted to get that win, get our feet underneath us moving forward. Of course, everything's going to get tougher from here and we're going to have to up our game for sure. But I thought we did a good tonight, I was pleased."
Pine Tree will face Waxahachie later this week on a date and at a location to be determined, while Corsicana ended its season at 19-13.
Lady Pirates senior Sky Holmes, a 6-2 middle blocker, led the way for Pine Tree with 18 kills and four blocks. Kabreshia Orange added 11 kills and a pair of aces, while Kerri Johnson supplied nine kills and two aces.
Pine Tree's victory, however, featured contributions up and down its roster. Six different players registered at least four kills, while five Lady Pirates assisted on at least one point. Lilly Cabrera paced Pine Tree's setters with 24 assists, followed by Taylor Assenheimer, who netted 13 helpers.
Hannah Seibel and Abi Skeeler combined for nine kills, while Gavyn Diviney filled the stat sheet with four kills, two blocks, eight assists and two aces.
"We're moving the ball around and getting a balanced offense, which makes us a little tougher to deal with, instead of being just a one-man gang out there," Musick said.
Caroline Blitz sparked Corsicana's losing effort with eight kills and two aces. Stephanie Willingham and Mychellette Andrews combined for nine kills and 10 blocks, Carly Cates dished out 21 assists, and Josey Saipongi chipped in with five aces, including four in a row during Corsicana's Game 1 win.
"They played really tough," Musick said of Corsicana, the No. 3 seed from District 16-5A. "They played really good defense, they played hard, popped a lot of balls up and never gave up. I think we did get them (shut down) there a couple of times where they made a few errors on their own. But this atmosphere will do that to any team at any time if you're not really on your toes."
The defense of Andrews, who blocked four Pine Tree shot attempts, helped Corsicana remain close with Pine Tree in the opening set. With the Lady Tigers clinging to a 17-16 lead, Saipongi served up four consecutive aces to help Corsicana enjoy a 5-0 run that effective put the game away.
"We did some good things in Game 1, but we had too many areas where we let too many points roll off on our own errors," Musick said. "That's adrenaline and just nerves right there coming into the playoffs. We had to kinda get our feet underneath us coming in, and hopefully this (match) helped us do that."
Pine Tree jumped out to an 8-1 lead in Game 2, but the Lady Pirates eventually allowed Corsicana to gain a 13-10 advantage midway through the set. Trailing 15-13, Pine Tree got kills from Holmes, Diviney and Johnson and a pair of aces from Chelsea Chadwick to go in front for good at 20-15.
Corsicana and Pine Tree were even at 20-20 late in Game 3, but the Lady Pirates closed out the win with five consecutive points to gain control of the match. In the fourth set, Corsicana and Pine Tree remained close before the Lady Pirates finished by scoring 15 of the game's final 21 points.