WEST — Prior to the varsity action, a couple of dozen of West’s youth volleyball players introduced themselves to the home fans, each one smacking an honorary serve.
That bridge to the future is important to West High School coach Sandy Dickerson. After all, those ponytailed preteens may be asked to carry on “the streak” someday.
The streak stretched a little farther on Tuesday, as the juggernaut Lady Trojans dispatched visiting Bruceville-Eddy with ease, 25-13, 25-6, 25-10. The victory was West’s 52nd straight in district play, spanning more than three years.
When players graduate each year and the faces and names change, how is a program able to sustain such invincibility? It all boils down to attention to detail, Dickerson said.
“I think it’s our hard work ethic,” she said. “From middle school all the way up, we try to enforce, ‘Do the simple things right in all sports.’ Not just volleyball, but in all sports, and I think it carries over from one sport to the next.”
To their opponents, it can sometimes feel like every Lady Trojan hitter is equipped with eight arms, since the spikes seem to come from every direction. Super Centex standout Mia Pokluda bashed a team-high 10 kills for West (26-7 overall, 6-0 in District 19-3A), but she was hardly the only hitter to hurt the Lady Eagles. West’s wealth distribution was utopian – as Hallie King chipped in eight kills, Emma Nors popped five and Emily Jares rapped four in the sweep.
“The setters do a really good job of executing who they think is ready to go,” Dickerson said. “Hopefully they’re recognizing where the block is and trying to shoot back, or get a quick, something to offset their defense.”
West setter Libby Gerik demonstrated a savvy ability to put the ball where it needed, especially considering she was an emergency call-up from the junior varsity. West was without its normal starting setter Macie Polansky due to a broken finger.
West controlled the match throughout. The Lady Trojans held a slim 8-6 lead in the opening set following a deflected kill from Bruceville-Eddy’s Madison Beesley through the attempted West block and a Lady Trojan serve that sailed long of the back line.
But West kept the Lady Eagles scrambling thereafter, winning 24 of the next 32 points, bleeding over into the second set. Bruceville-Eddy’s defense struggled to make quality passes off West’s well-struck sizzlers. At one point, Nors hammered a spike that ricocheted off the face of a sliding Bruceville-Eddy libero, and later Pokluda sent another defender somersaulting backwards in a failed attempt to catch up with some high-velocity spatter.
Bruceville-Eddy made a mini-run in the third set, holding pace with West through the first 10 points, thanks to a Beesley kill and a well-placed Kailyn Bartek ace. But West sharpened up its play thereafter, dominating at the net to claim 20 of the next 25 points and the victory.
Gerik delivered 14 assists for West, while Claire Simmons led the team’s defensive effort with nine digs and Jares added seven.
Though Dickerson noted that “everyone seems to play their best match against us,” West should find more of a challenge next time out, when it hosts fellow district unbeaten Troy on Friday.
“Oh, yes. It’ll be a tough one, and it’s going to be good,” Dickerson said. “The district has thrown a lot of stuff back at us, all the teams. I think it’s helped us, and everyone is always after us. … They want to beat us, and we want to try to stay winning. For the playoffs, it really does become important what position you come in.”