SPLENDORA — You could see the excitement and feel the energy exhibited by the Porter Spartans Thursday afternoon.
After three wins in pool play of the Splendora Tournament, they are bound for the Gold Bracket. And the Spartans were pumped about it.
Porter took care of business against Hardin-Jefferson (25-17, 27-25), Spring Woods (25-14, 25-9) and Splendora (25-20, 25-14) on the day.
“I’m really pumped,” Porter coach Doris Elizondo said. “I’m really excited. The girls have been working really, really hard.”
The Spartans (9-12) are 4-0 on the week counting it’s non-district win at Livingston Tuesday night.
The Spartans refused to drop a set in pool play, even in that opening match with Hardin-Jefferson, which was close to the end.
“Our motto for this year is ‘Grit’,” Elizondo explained. “I told them that being gritty means you’re going to have to get dirty and you’re going to have to work a little extra and work a little harder. I feel like it’s starting to pay off. This is a good day for us.”
In the final match of the day against Splendora, the Spartans took six of the final eight points, resulting in a burst of celebration after the 3-0 day.
Lauren Kasel, Keriangyls Otero-Rijos, Josey Nunn and Emily Knollenberg played the net well all match long, giving Splendora trouble offensively.
Kasel finished with 17 kills total on the day.
“She’s been doing a really good job coming out and finishing,” Elizondo said. “Keriangyls is my left-handed hitter and she’s normally my go-to. Kasel really stepped up today and if I can keep both of them healthy, I’m happy.”
Senior Lisa Stir has been adjusting well to her new role for the Spartans this season and passed well.
“It’s her first time as a setter and we started working with her in the offseason,” Elizondo said of the former outside hitter. “It’s been a little bit of a transition, but she’s the captain of the team and she’s a hustler and a go-getter.”
Elizondo was also pleased with how well libero Meadow Housman has been playing as well. Housman is also new to her position.
“She’s doing a really good job contributing to our dig count,” Elizondo added.
To perfect the sweep Thursday, Elizondo was very pleased. Her team has shown some inconsistencies at times as a young team.
“I’m surprised every single game,” Elizondo said. “We can go hot and cold. Sometimes I think we’re doing pretty good and then we end up with a loss. Any win is a happy win for me. I didn’t predict anything for this tournament. I was hoping it would be a learning experience and we’re working on new defense and different offensive plans. I felt like this was a good experience for getting ready for districts.”
Porter will have a bye to start bracket play on Saturday. It awaits the winner of Texas City and Klein Oak JV in the semifinals at 11 a.m.
SPLENDORA SAD ABOUT MISSING GOLD BRACKET
After going 1-2 in pool play, the Splendora Ladycats showed some emotion in the locker room according to second-year coach DaVette McCall.
Splendora opened the day with a win over Spring Woods (25-13, 25-4). But the Ladycats then fell to Hardin (25-23, 18-25, 15-10) and then to Porter (25-20, 25-14).
The Ladycats (6-8) were really hoping to play in the Gold Bracket of their own tournament. Success in the Silver Bracket is the new goal.
“They’re hurt about it,” McCall said. “In the locker room, their were tears. But I think that’s good because it shows that we care. We didn’t have that last year. We’d go in the locker room and I’d be like ‘why aren’t you crying?’ I’d be crying and they wouldn’t be. So it’s kind of refreshing to see that from a coaching standpoint.”
Against Spring Woods, Melaney Owens led with four kills while Falon Buford, Morgan Buford and Jalynn Knight each had three. Owens also led in assists with seven while Falon Buford had four digs.
“The first game against Spring Woods, we did really well,” McCall said. “But when we got into pressure situations, it kind of showed a little bit today.”
Shaelyn Sanders had nine kills to lead Splendora against Hardin while Allie Jones had seven. Falon Buford had 16 assists while Owens had nine digs.
Against Porter, Jones had five kills while Sanders and Knight each had four. Jones led in digs with 10 while Falon Buford passed for 12 assists.
“Our hitting was not where it should have been and that’s kind of where we slacked,” McCall said.
Splendora will have a bye to start Silver Bracket play Saturday. It awaits the winner of Liberty and Buna in the semifinals.
The Ladycats first have a non-district match at New Waverly Friday evening.
CANEY CREEK GOES 1-2
The Caney Creek Lady Panthers will play in the Silver Bracket after a win against Buna (25-15, 26-24) and losses to Klein Oak JV (25-20, 25-16) and Tarkington (score not available) on Thursday.
Caney Creek (6-7) received a bye into the semifinals of the bracket. It will face the winner of Spring Woods and Anahuac.
No other information was available on the Lady Panthers.