Beckville All But Ends White Oak’s 14-Year District Winning Streak In Five Sets
BECKVILLE -- It's not over until it's over, but it does not seem likely White Oak's 14-year district championship streak will survive the month.
Beckville came from behind for a 30-32, 26-24, 23-25, 25-22, 15-13 win Tuesday at home for a District 16-3A sweep of the Ladynecks and now has a two-game lead in the league standings.
White Oak coach Nicole Thorn and the Ladycats' Cherry Downs see the writing on the wall. None of the five other district opponents came up with answers against either team in the first round of district play.
Four of the five teams did not win a single set versus the two district leaders. White Oak gave up one set to New Diana.
At least three of those teams must beat Beckville down the stretch for the Ladynecks to claim a majority share of the league. Even if the two teams finish with two district losses apiece, the Ladycats own the relevant tiebreakers.
"That's something Coach (Carolee) Musick and her staff started and it's going to be really hard to beat," fourth-year White Oak coach Nicole Thorn said of the jeopardized 14-year streak. "We didn't win district. It happens. It's a part of the game. But we still have a lot to play for, and that's what we're going to do."
Beckville's team was excited this past February when it learned it would be placed in a district with White Oak, which has a handful of players that were part of the program toward a 3A state semifinals appearance in 2014 and a 3A Region III tournament appearance last season.
While the Ladynecks accomplished those impressive feats, the Ladycats reached the 2A regional tournament setting twice and wanted to accomplish the same things one level higher.
Facing White Oak helps. More than that, one Beckville slip against another district opponent before Tuesday would have given East Texas' most successful team for more than a decade new life.
"We've enjoyed being in a tough district," Downs said. "It keeps the level of competitiveness up. It keeps us having to work hard. We have very little lull in the season where we can go out and just go through the motions. As a team, that's the best thing for us. We knew it would be a challenge. The girls rose to it."
White Oak (23-8, 5-2), which needed the win Tuesday to draw even in the standings after losing at home to Beckville in the district opener last month, was never out of it until it served into its own net on match point in the fifth and final set.
Four sets were decided by two points -- the absolute minimum needed to win -- and the outlying set was just a three-point win for Beckville (26-4, 7-0).
The Ladycats won a lead on the first point of each set, but White Oak came back at some point in each frame for its own advantage.
The decisive fifth set, a race to 15 points, featured nine ties toward an 11-11 score. White Oak blinked at that point with a hit into the net and a kill attempt that sailed beyond the back court line for a 13-11 deficit.
From there, Avery Moore scored her last of 14 points to get the Ladynecks back within a point.
Hannah Humphries pushed Beckville's lead to 14-12 with a kill, White Oak answered with a block from Spencer Sallee and then the Ladynecks delivered their errant serve for the loss.
White Oak had the opportunity to win the match with a victory in the fourth set after coming back to win first and third frames of the contest from behind. It led 8-5 at one point in the fourth and was tied, 12-12, before ultimately losing the most lopsided set by a score of 25-22.
The third set came down to which team made the most of a 12-12 tie. The Ladynecks did by way of a 10-4 run led by setter Kyla Weeks toward a team-best 36 assists and five kills from Moore.
Likewise, the second set neared its end knotted at 24 points apiece. Beckville benefitted from a double hit penalty called on White Oak and a set-ending kill from Kinley Blair on her way to 11 kills and a team-best 15 total points in the match.
Beckville led the first set 21-16, but it allowed a 9-3 run toward a 25-25 draw. The Ladycats had two chances to win by the necessary two points afterward to White Oak's three en route to a 30-30 tie.
Weeks gave White Oak a fourth and final chance to seal the opening frame with a kill and Beckville then botched a return on the set point.
Beckville will try to fend off the pack in its final five district games, starting Friday with a trip to Jefferson, while White Oak moves on to host Ore City.
"We worked tooth and nail," Downs said. "It was an exceptional game. It was a hard-fought battle. It could have gone either way, and our girls pulled out the win."