Already surpassing last season, the Class 2A Meridian Lady Jackets notch District 11-2A volleyball win over Three Way in five-set thriller
After opening District 11-2A competition with back-to-back lopsided losses, the young and inexperienced Meridian Lady Jacket volleyball program showed some grit in posting only its second district win in more than 40 years.
Despite losing the opening set convincingly, the Lady Jackets battled back to prevail in a hard-fought and dramatic five-set victory over the Three Way Lady Indians, 13-25, 25-22, 18-25, 25-20, 15-7, last Saturday in Yellowjacket Gymnasium.
“The girls showed a tremendous amount of determination and mental endurance on Saturday,” Meridian volleyball’s first-year head coach Lauren Cartwright said. “After a five-set match, we were able to walk away with the win. Our team came together to make some smart plays and work around Three-Way’s defensive coverage.”
Last season, the Lady Jackets won their first district match in 41 years in a hard-fought and thrilling 25-23, 25-15, 20-25, 22-25, 15-13 victory over Three Way to advanced to the Class 2A postseason to take on top-ranked Crawford in a Bi-District playoff matchup.
Tuesday night, the Lady Jackets (1-3 in district, 4-12 overall) traveled to Hico and the Lady Tigers swept past Meridian, 25-17, 25-14. 25-8, as senior Mackenzie Lane led in kills, while senior America Ramirez set the pace in digs, blocks and serving.
“I was proud of the way we played in the first set,” Cartwright said. “The girls did a great job playing out every volley. We look forward to our match up with Tolar. They have an exemplary program and we are preparing accordingly.”
But just four games into the first round of district play in 2021, the Lady Jackets will be looking for more this season.
“We look forward to playing two powerhouse programs this week in Hico and Tolar,” Cartwright said.
After making their road trip to visit Hico Tuesday, the Lady Jackets return home to host Bluff Dale in a District 11-2A contest at 11 a.m. Saturday in Yellowjacket Gymnasium.
But for now, the Lady Jackets will still enjoy their first district win in 2021.
“The volleyball program motto this year is ‘We Before Me,’” Cartwright said. “Our student athletes did an exemplary job of living that out on Saturday.”
Although the Lady Jackets own a long history of playing volleyball, the program was initially dropped following the 1973-74 school year. Meridian reinstated volleyball for the 1978-79 school year, but promptly dropped it again the following season.
After a 41-year absence, MISD athletic director Wade Morton and MISD superintendent Kim Edwards locked in and decided to bring volleyball back in 2020. And certainly, Cartwright appears to have the Lady Jacket primed to take their game to the next level this season.
In the district opener, the perennial powerhouse Hamilton Lady Bulldogs swept past Meridian in straight sets, 25-8, 25-16, 25-8, before their home crowd. Then last Tuesday, the Evant Lady Elks knocked off the Lady Jackets in straight sets, 3-0.
“Our focus in district will be to play our very best, working on our goals and staying focused on the fundamentals,” Cartwright said. “The girls have already come a long way in preseason, and I look forward to seeing how we grow throughout our district schedule this season.”
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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