Lovejoy Makes Quick Work Of Pine Tree In Opening Round Of 5A Volleyball Playoffs
WILLS POINT -- Pine Tree head coach Carolee Musick was clearly a little down after her team's 25-25-17, 25-14, 25-13 season-ending loss Tuesday to Lucas Lovejoy at Wills Point High School.
At the same time, there was plenty for her to be proud of in the Class 5A bi-district performance. That was evident as well.
Her fourth-seed squad from District 16-5A was just a few beats off the state's second-ranked 5A team's pace. It even put together some runs that gave the building a sense momentum was on the cusp of changing.
"I was very proud of them and the way we played," Musick said. "That's the No. 2 team in the state and they are multiple-time state champions. They came out here and played them. A couple of rotations in Game 1 and Game 2, we didn't do as well in Game 3, but in Game 1 and Game 2 it was really one rotation. Other than that, we played right with them. So I was very proud of that."
Pine Tree was one of five out of six East Texas teams at the Class 6A and 5A levels that didn't survive the first round of the playoffs. Four of the losing teams played schools from super urban settings, including Lovejoy, that strongly benefit from the club volleyball scenes in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and the Greater Houston Area.
Hallsville, the Lady Pirates' district's champion, is the sole local team from the largest two classifications moving on.
Lovejoy is perhaps the most well-built team of those that victimized East Texas. Heavy-handed hitters Paige Becker and Bailey Downing both hit double-digit point totals and were fed by three teammates with good numbers in the assist column.
Becker scored 13 points, Downing recorded 11 points and four other helped the team earn 47 of the 75 points needed to secure the win. Pine Tree gave up 28 points on various errors such as striking scoring attempts out of bounds and missed serves.
Callie Holden recorded 19 assists for the winning side, which isn't all that many in the grand scheme of things. The thing is, six other players chipped in assists and ate at Holden's potential. Lexie Smith got eight assists and Annabelle Archer added seven more.
That helped Lovejoy begin pulling away in the first set after struggling out to an 11-10 deficit. It found its bearings and whipped the ball around on quick cross-passes to its strong hitters.
The other issue was Pine Tree quickly went from a mostly-clean team to one that had seven mistakes for Lovejoy points by the end of the set. A string of four self-inflicted errors around one Lovejoy kill spearheaded a 15-6 run to close the frame.
Lovejoy once again struggled to the middle portion of the second set, a 13-12 disadvantage, before gaining control for an 11-point win. Taylor Carty held serve for nine consecutive points and aced two serves in the span.
Chelsea Chadwick broke serve to make it a 22-14 score, but Lovejoy scored the next three points to clinch the set.
Lovejoy raced out to an 18-5 edge in the third set. That was all she wrote.
"I think this could be a very good learning experience for my juniors coming back next season," Musick said. "We've never faced somebody that's been ranked this high or accomplished the things that school has accomplished. It should be a good learning tool for us moving forward."
Nine players will return to the Pine Tree roster next season. All of them will be seniors.
Unfortunately, Tuesday marked the end of Alexis Wiley's long career as a Lady Pirate as well as Marrisa Grey's tenure with the program. Both of those players led the team with six points in the match.
Musick also has to say goodbye to Chadwick, Na'Keyia Fisher, Mary McQuaid and Kam'ree Williams.
"They fought hard and I know how much they love volleyball," Musick said. "They're a tight group of girls and I will, for sure, miss all of those seniors."