TOM BEAN — In the world where the Lady Tomcats live, they are not in the playoffs. When they talk about goals and mention it in practice, the words they use don’t indicate anything past the regular season.
“They’ll say things like if we make the playoffs or when we make the playoffs,” Tom Bean head coach Dene Adams said. “I don’t think they even know. We don’t talk about it. We have a goal of finishing first.”
Due to the size of their district and the split of Class 1A and 2A teams, Tom Bean had already clinched a playoff spot in 2019 when the UIL’s realignment was released nearly two years ago. But the focus beyond earning the top seed for the postseason is narrow.
“They’re always ready to get better,” Adams said. “We’re very determined. We’re going to do whatever it takes to get that ‘W.’”
With a chance to remain atop the standings and put some distance between them and their competition for the top seed in the bracket, the Lady Tomcats defeated Trenton, 25-23, 25-20, 25-16, in District 12-2A action.
Chloe Farrer had nine kills, 15 digs, three aces and three blocks, Emma Lowing chipped in three kills, three digs and three blocks, Kaitlyn Lind put down four kills, Raylynn Adams handed out 25 assists, Shelby Mason totaled 12 digs and six aces and Taylor Whitehurst collected 25 digs to go with four aces for Tom Bean (10-16, 2-0), which has the district bye on Friday before hosting Savoy on Tuesday.
Two years ago the program made the playoffs for the first time and reached the region quarterfinals and five members of that group are still on the roster — Farrer, Lind, Lauren Getts, Whitehurst and Mason — to set the tone for whatever is ahead in November after last year’s bi-district appearance.
“That helps,” Adams said. “That experience and leadership is really big.”
A pair of late runs in Game 3 helped propel Tom Bean to the sweep. Trenton didn’t go quietly as the Lady Tomcats’ only lead in the early stages was at 2-1 and the Lady Tigers were up 10-6 before losing their grasp on extending the match.
There was a 6-0 surge where Lowing put down two kills to give Tom Bean a 17-12 lead that Trenton weathered by responded with three straight points. But the Lady Tomcats then notched six straight points to widen a gap that wouldn’t get closer.
The second game had a familiar feel to Game 1 as Tom Bean was in the process of building a good lead to take into the latter stages before Trenton made its push to try and steal it away.
Unlike in Game 1, the Lady Tigers applied pressure but couldn’t jump in front after they held their last lead at 14-13.
Trenton controlled Game 2 at the start before Tom Bean chipped away and had its turn in front. When the Lady Tigers had that one-point advantage, Tom Bean reeled off four straight points. The Lady Tomcats were up 19-15 before Trenton made a move. Misty Spindle had a kill, Dalila Hernandez put down an ace and a hitting error saw Tom Bean’s lead down to 19-18.
A service error immediately restored some breathing room, Lind had a late block and the Lady Tomcats went up 2-0.
Despite holding a 19-14 advantage in Game 1, the Lady Tomcats were forced to rally after Trenton used a late comeback and was two points away from claiming the stanza.
It was an 8-0 run from the Lady Tigers that turned their five-point deficit into a 22-19 advantage with Carly Stone, Maddison Lavoie and Dana Orozco leading the way.
Tom Bean was able to regroup, Kyndle Selman put down a kill and the frame was even at 22. Lavoie came up with a block to give momentum back to Trenton but the Lady Tomcats were able to notch the final three points with the last coming on Adams’ ace.
“They have heart. They have fight,” Adams said. “They’re not going to give up and that’s what I love about this team. We were down 21-10 in the second set against Wolfe City and won it 26-24. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a comeback like that in all my years of coaching.”
After the teams traded early points, Tom Bean led for much of Game 1. Farrer and Lowing were in the middle of a 5-0 burst which gave the home side an 11-4 lead and it was up to 14-5 moments later.
Until the Lady Tigers went ahead at 20-19, their only other lead in the game had been on the opening point.