The Sherman Lady Cats strengthened their hold on third place in the District 5-5A volleyball standings, defeating Denton Braswell on Tuesday for their fourth consecutive victory.
Madi Gladen had 14 kills with Rylie Bernard and Kylie Jackman getting nine each as Sherman won, 25-11, 25-17, 19-25, 25-13, at Bearcat Gymnasium.
The Lady Cats (28-8, 5-4) climbed above .500 in 5-5A play for the first time after starting the district schedule 1-4. All four losses were on the road, but Sherman has climbed back into the playoff hunt by winning its last three home matches.
The program’s first postseason berth since 2005 can be clinched as early as Friday if Sherman wins and Denison and Wichita Falls lose.
“We just had to get our momentum back,” Sherman head coach Ashley Aleman said. “We had to refocus, regroup. We talked a lot about our mental game and I think that’s the difference between the beginning of district and now. Our mental game is back where we want it. That helps.”
The rough start included a 3-0 loss at Braswell on Sept. 15.
“We just didn’t want to have what we had the last round of district,” Gladen said. “We wanted to come out as as a different team and come out undefeated. That’s what we have done.”
Aleman said taking the first two sets was a major factor in Tuesday’s rematch with the Bengals (20-16, 2-7).
“We just try to control what we control,” she said. “When we make a mistake, we focus on letting it cost us only one point. We make a pass and a play and get the ball back. That helps my girls to look forward to the next play and not dwell on what just happened.”
Sarah Graham added seven kills for Sherman, while Dallas Aleman had 40 assists and joined Cameron Wecker in leading the Lady Cats with 13 digs. Jackman also reached double figures in digs with 10.
Graham, Gladen and Dallas Aleman each had two blocks and Bernard led the team with five aces.
Braswell was led by Taylor Curtis with 11 kills and Grace Alexander with seven. Tytiana Johnson had a match-high seven blocks for the Bengals. Jalen Ward had 14 assists with Avery Via making 13, while Madison Brown had 20 digs. Curtis and Via each had two aces and Ward had one.
Sherman jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first set and Braswell never got closer than five points the rest of the way. The Bengals got going in the second set, which saw eight ties and five lead changes. With Braswell leading 9-8, Sherman went on a 7-0 run to take control and closed out the set with a 9-2 run.
Braswell led all the way in the third set, though Sherman had a chance to tie it serving at 9-8. The Lady Cats trailed 18-10 and 23-15 before cutting the margin to four at 23-19.
In the fourth set, Sherman led 5-2 only to have Braswell come back to tie it twice, the last time at 7-7. The Lady Cats regained the lead for good on the next point and closed the match with a 9-2 run.
“Volleyball’s a game of momentum and Braswell got some good momentum going,” Ashley Aleman said. “They’re fighters and that’s what I told my girls — they’re going to fight.
“That’s what anyone who’s experienced in volleyball knows, just fight and fight until things fall your way. We just had to stay on top of our game and I felt like if we limited the errors, we should come out on top.”