Pine Tree Volleyball Wraps Up Non-District With Win Against John Tyler
LONGVIEW -- So many high school kids started running to the top of the stands to see what the commotion was, the police officer watching over Pine Tree's match against John Tyler had to investigate the sudden crowd shift.
It was just the Lady Pirates making noise in a practice area behind the stands while the junior varsity game wrapped up. They were confident their athleticism was going to carry them to victory Tuesday evening at the Pirate Center despite missing senior middle hitter Sky Holmes to injury.
The confidence was not misplaced. Pine Tree put a bow on its non-district schedule with a sweep against the Lady Lions, 25-19, 25-16, 25-23, behind strong front court play.
"I thought that we executed our serve-receive very well most of the time," winning head coach Carolee Musick said. "I thought we executed our defense most of the time. We ran our offense well most of the time. We didn't get shook when the score got tied. We were able to bounce back in some tough situations."
The Lady Pirates (16-9) drew an excellent crowd of students. Some had finished their own athletic activities for the day and were hanging around campus. Others returned to school with body paint, flags and posters. Even head football coach and athletic director David Collins was there after practice.
The kicker was a stereo system that could drown out all the cheering with a flip of a switch.
It was a tough place for JT to play.
Pine Tree broke a 7-7 tie in the first set with an 11-3 run and coasted to a 25-19 finish.
The second set was a bigger disappointment for the Lady Lions. Six various errors cost it a 10-9 lead. The Lady Pirates scored the frame's final eight points.
Convinced, the crowd began to thin out.
But JT had a surprise in store. Kandice Jackson set up seven kills in the third set while the Lady Lions combined for four aces to tie the set at 21-all.
Pine Tree scored the next three points on an opponent serving error, Hannah Seibel's heavy spike and a JT kill attempt that went out of bounds.
The Lady Lions gave it one last gasp with a kill from Jackson and a big block by Chenique Baxter to draw back to a 24-23 deficit.
Musick took her first timeout of the frame.
"Mostly, I told them to not worry about the score," she said. "I told them to just execute one point at a time. They were able to do that tonight, which I was pleased with."
Out of the timeout, Seibel connected on a set from Lilly Cabrera and put the ball on the floor. Right in the middle of the JT defense for the 16th win of the season.
Kabreshia Orange and Kerri Johnson both had a team-best eight kills from spots in the front court for Pine Tree. Lilly Cabrera recorded 13 assists. Taylor Assenheimer added 10 assists of her own.
JT was led by Baxter's 10 kills, 11 digs and two aces. The program will begin its District 16-5A schedule Friday at home against Jacksonville.
Pine Tree will begin District 15-5A play Friday against Greenville at the Pirate Center. A road match against Texas High comes next Tuesday. The Lady Pirates will host Hallsville, a state-ranked team, Sept. 19.
Fortunately, Musick's program is just days away from having Holmes -- the key senior -- available for the first time since the season-opening match against North Forney.
Holmes has been cleared for limited practice and will be a game-time decision Friday.
"We had to work through our season to this point to gain some confidence in ourselves," Musick said. "We have done that. If we can continue to do that, and get her back, I cannot imagine how that's not going to be a good thing for us."