Pottsboro sweeps Howe, ready for what's next

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Pottsboro's Ciara Redden attacks at the net during the Lady Cardinals' district win at Howe.

HOWE — The Pottsboro Lady Cardinals don’t know how things will shake out between now and the start of the playoffs. They don’t know if they had just played their final match or if they will have a tie-breaker contest, maybe even two. They don’t yet know what seed they will be — second, third or fourth.

The most important thing, however, is they do know they are headed to the playoffs. Everything after that fact can be figured out later.

“They’re excited about that. They were talking about how it hadn’t happened since they were in high school,” Pottsboro head coach Kailey Hayward said. “Coming into the district I thought we even had a chance to get second. We were going to have to play hard every night.”

Hannah Fellinger had nine kills and a pair of blocks as the Lady Cardinals defeated Howe, 25-20, 25-15, 25-12, in 11-3A action to close out their portion of the district schedule.

Taylor Hayes and Ciara Redden each finished with eight kills while Hadley Williams and Jordyn Hampton totaled 14 assists and three kills apiece for third-place Pottsboro (17-6, 10-4), which was supposed to play fourth-place Bonham on Friday to end the regular season. But the Lady Warriors forfeited their final three matches because of positive COVID-19 tests, meaning it looked like the Lady Cardinals would be locked into the third seed.

But combined with second-place Blue Ridge having to cancel its final two matches, the top five teams in the standings had match-ups called off that would have affected either playoff spots or seeding. The district executive committee is meeting on Thursday to discuss possibilities to determine the final order after Gunter, which is locked in as the top seed.

Regardless of the meeting’s outcome, Pottsboro is in the postseason for the first time since 2015.

“We’ve been close the last couple of years,” Hayward said. “I’m glad we got over that hill.”

While the Lady Cardinals had to wait until right at the start of district play for some players to get healthy, the full compliment of hitters has kept opponents on their heels.

“We usually have three top hitters every game and defenses have to respect that,” Hayward said. “We can spread it out if someone’s in a rut. That helps to not rely solely on one person or one rotation.”

Sierra Copeland, Holly Cavender and Alex Blount led the way for Howe (3-16, 0-13), which ends its season at Leonard on Friday.

Pottsboro finished off the victory behind Fellinger’s play at the net. Howe hung around in the early stages with a potential threat to extend the match as the Lady Bulldogs trailed just 7-6.

But the Lady Cardinals ended the night on a 10-2 run.

In the second game, the Lady Cardinals opened with four consecutive points on the way to a 9-3 advantage.

Hayes and Redden keyed a 5-0 spurt to give Pottsboro a 21-8 lead which hovered around 12 points the rest of the way as the visitors moved one step closer to the sweep.

Game 1 was tied at nine before Pottsboro went in front to stay but the Lady Bulldogs remained a threat the rest of the frame.

Hannah Dwyer’s kill trimmed Howe’s deficit to 15-12 before the Lady Cardinals used a 6-2 burst behind Hayes and Redden to widen the margin back to 21-14.

But a 5-0 answer from the Lady Bulldogs got it back to a three-point margin at 22-18 before the Lady Cardinals were able to close it out.

“That’s the one thing that got us in trouble earlier in the season, starting slow,” Hayward said. “We don’t have time now to start slow. They snapped out of it and got going.”

District 11-3A

Pottsboro    3

Howe          0