S&S sweeps Valley View as turnaround continues

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
S&S' Brenna Howard (10) and Harlee Wooten set up a block against Valley View's Andee Renfro during the Lady Rams' win in District 10-3A play.

SADLER — At the start of the season the goals were much more modest and that made sense for a group which had only one victory, and none in district play, to its credit for the previous year.

The Lady Rams were swept in their opener, a feeling all too familiar. And then they won eight straight matches. And 10 of 11. And 13 of 15.

By the time district play rolled around, the feeling was completely different. With the second half of 10-3A action underway after S&S swept Valley View, 25-14, 25-18, 25-17, a spirited playoff race will include the Lady Rams.

“The kids are humble enough they weren’t going to take anything for granted,” S&S head coach Brett Willis said. “I don’t think they let anything go to their head. The expectation and goal is to make playoffs, even in a tough district.”

Grace Hyde had 10 kills and three blocks, Harlee Wooten added nine kills and two blocks, Marlee Howard chipped in seven kills, 10 digs and three blocks and Brenna Howard handed out 35 assists to go with four aces for S&S (19-10, 3-5), which moved into a tie with Pilot Point for fifth place and just a game behind Ponder for the fourth playoff berth with six matches remaining.

The Lady Rams, who haven’t reached the postseason since 2006, host Whitesboro — which is a game behind them in the standings — on Friday afternoon before playing at Ponder on Tuesday.

“We went 2-5 in the first half and there were three teams we took to four or five,” Willis said. “We’re still learning how to win and how to finish.”

Taking care of business against a team like Valley View, which has not win a district contest, was crucial for S&S to keep pace with those around it in the standings.

The only time the Lady Rams used a big push to take control of a game was in the opener. Valley View jumped to the early 4-1 lead before the score was tied at five. Cheyenne Carr and Marlee Howard had kills during a 7-0 burst for the 12-5 margin and the closest the Lady Eagles could get was 16-11 on a Carson Dugger ace.

Wooten had a kill and a block before Paige Turner landed an ace, the gap widened and the lead hit double digits at 23-13 on the way to S&S closing out the frame moments later.

Valley View’s only lead in Game 2 came on the opening point as S&S went in front on Marlee Howard’s kill to make it 3-2 and the Lady Rams steadily build their lead instead of with one big charge. S&S notched four out of five points with kills from Brenna Howard, Marlee Howard and Hyde for a 14-8 advantage and then consecutive kills by Kendal Fellegy and Turner had the home team in front 17-10.

The Lady Eagles made a late push to try and tie the match but never got closer than five points while Hyde and Fellegy helped the Lady Rams hold a 2-0 lead and set up the chance for a sweep.

S&S raced out a 5-0 lead in Game 3 with Turner at the service line and she dropped in two aces before Valley View got on the board. Brenna Howard picked up where Turner left off with a pair of aces in a 6-0 burst to give the Lady Rams an 11-2 lead where both points for the Lady Eagles came on service errors.

Faith Foster capped a 6-1 run with a kill that made the stanza competitive again as the Lady Eagles were down just 12-7 after their awful start. But the Lady Rams got back up by double digits on Dara Muller’s ace at 18-8 then kills from Fellegy, Wooten and Marlee Howard helped procure a 24-12 lead.

Valley View fended off five match points before Marlee Howard overpowered a block to clinch the sweep.

“I thought they played really well the first two sets,” Willis said. “It’s those little baby errors that let things get away sometimes and we need to be better on that. We’re going to have to play really well to achieve our goal.”