ORDER ON THE COURT

in Volleyball

Despite going winless throughout their non-district schedule, Class 1A Meridian Lady Jackets wrap up first round of District 18-1A play in third place with a playoff berth in sight

MERIDIAN – Sometimes, one victory can turn a season around. And certainly, that phenomenon has proven true for the Meridian Lady Jacket volleyball squad as the recently-restored program finds itself firmly planted in third place in the battle for one of District 18-1A’s three playoff berths.

In fact, after getting their first win of the season in their District 18-1A opener, the expectation for the Lady Jacket s changed dramatically. Despite losing every non-district match they played during the 2022 Texas high school volleyball season, Meridian enters each district clash expecting to win. And judging from last week’s results in two crucial matchups to wrap up the first round of district competition, those expectations stand firmly realistic.

After losing a heartbreaking five-set decision to the second place Covington Owls, 20-25, 25-17, 23-25, 25-17, 16-14, at home last Tuesday in Yellow Jacket Gymnasium, Meridian bounced back to capture a thrilling and hard-fought five-set victory over the Morgan Lady Eagles, 24-26, 25-11, 21-25, 26-24, 15-6, last Friday in Morgan.

“We didn’t have our best game tonight in Morgan,” Meridian volleyball first-year head coach Lyndsie Schur said. “But we were able to fight against adversity and finish out the match.”

Once losing the first set at Morgan, the third place Lady Jackets (2-2 in district, 2-19 overall) found themselves battling out of a hole the entire match. Junior Canyon Stauffer led Meridian with eight kills and 15 service aces, six assists and six digs. Senior Catherine Lunsford also smashed eight kills, followed by junior Eve Dirske with five and senior Abby Edwards with four, while sophomore Mariana Paniagua dished out five assists and sophomore Journey Stauffer came up with three digs against the Lady Eagles (0-4, 0-12).

Despite winning the first set against Covington (3-1, 5-12), Meridian could not finish the hard-fought match against the Lady Owls. Junior Hope Cabrera led the Lady Jackets with seven kills, followed by Lunsford and Canyon Stauffer with six each and Dirkse with four. Canyon Stauffer dished out a team-high eight assists and delivered 10 service aces, followed by Paniagua with nine aces and Journey Stauffer with seven.

“I’m extremely proud of the fight that the girls showed tonight,” Schur said following the Covington match. “They fought the entire match and made Covington earn every point. I knew going into this match that it would be a very good match.

“Unfortunately, we struggled at the service line (missing 21 serves), so that will certainly be a point of emphasis going forward. It’s tough to beat a good team like Covington whenever you miss that many serves. But even given the number of serves missed, our hustle and grit kept us in that game.”

But this week, the Lady Jackets will find out exactly how far the momentum of their District 18-1A opening win will carry them in the 2022 Texas high school volleyball season.

After opening the second round of district by hosting the Kopperl Lady Eagles (1-3, 1-14) at 6 p.m. Tuesday, the Lady Jackets will have an open date in the schedule Friday before getting a rematch with district-leading Blum (4-0, 19-12) Oct. 18.

After going winless through their non-district schedule, the Lady Jackets opened District 18-1A competition with an impressive straight set road victory over the Kopperl, 25-20, 25-19, 25-20, Sept. 23 before getting another open date in the schedule Sept. 26. Then against preseason favorite Blum, Meridian lost in straight sets, 25-9, 25-8, 25-5, Sept. 30 in Yellow Jacket Gymnasium.

“Coach McPherson does a great job with her team,” Schur said. “They are an extremely disciplined and talented team. We struggled to get our offense going because of how aggressive they were serving the ball.”

In losing to Blum, Canyon Stauffer dished out two service aces, while Dirske and Cabrera collected one kill apiece. Journey Stauffer led the Lady Jackets over Kopperl with eight kills, followed by Dirkse with six and Cabrera with four. Canyon Stauffer dished out a team-high 12 assists, Paniagua delivered seven service aces and eight assists, while Edwards smashed four service aces.

“I am so proud of how hard the girls worked to get this win,” Schur said. “We have talked about finishing games out, and we did just that last night. It was a total team effort and every girl executed their job.”

Photos by WENDY OROZCO

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