John Tyler Clinches Playoff Berth With Victory Against Pine Tree
LONGVIEW -- The John Tyler Lady Lions turned to cheer for the final time Tuesday evening.
In a back-and-forth match with Pine Tree, JT came out the victor after a 25-19 win in the fourth set to win 3-1. The Lady Lions also won the first and second sets by scores of 25-12 and 25-23.
This was no ordinary victory. The win secured John Tyler a spot in the playoffs as the fourth team in from District 16-5A. The Lady Lions improved to 7-5 in district play while Pine Tree moved to 5-7. John Tyler holds the tiebreaker and, with two district games left for both teams, there is no scenario in which the Lady Pirates could catch up.
"I told them specifically, 'If you win it, it's ours to have. If you lose it, we have to win out,'" coach Lamessa Derrett said. "We did this a few years ago when we played Lufkin and we were tied for fourth and we had to go back and play a third time and we lost. Coming off the road with those Rockwall and Mesquite schools for two years has been rough. We were at the bottom of the barrel. We had to win this game."
There were times throughout the game in which it seemed John Tyler might crumble. One of those times came during the second set when Pine Tree took a 23-20 lead. Derrett called timeout.
John Tyler finished the set with five consecutive points to take a 2-0 lead that was crucial for momentum. Makia Moon delivered the final kill as the Lady Lions jumped in celebration.
"Every time we finished a set I said, 'Look, we're at 0-0. Don't get comfortable,'" Derrett said.
It appeared those words didn't sink during the third set. Although the set was close throughout, the pivotal moment came late with both teams tied at 21. There was an incredibly long volley that ended with a vicious block from Pine Tree's Harleigh Wright. One could feel the momentum shift in that moment, and John Tyler called timeout.
It wouldn't matter, as the Lady Pirates would go on to take their first and only victory of the match, 25-22.
"I said, 'Ya'll are getting comfortable,' Derrett said. "'Ya'll let it go. You've got to put it in gear and fight or we're going to go five games.'"
Her team listened that time, going on to win the final set, 25-19.
Symone Morrison led John Tyler with 17 kills. She also had the team lead in digs with 16. Erin Henderson led with 20 assists.
John Tyler will be back in action at 4:30 p.m. Friday in Tyler for its senior night against Whitehouse. Pine Tree will hope to bounce back when it faces Nacogdoches at 4:30 p.m. Friday in Longview.