BRENHAM — Team cohesion is an important factor when you get this late into the season. And just from observation, the state-ranked Lady Highlanders are having a lot of fun right now.
And they are playing well together as a whole, which is very important as well.
In the Region II-6A area round Thursday night at Brehnam High School, The Woodlands swept Vista Ridge 25-12, 25-18, 25-12.
The win advances The Woodlands (46-4), the No. 2 ranked team by the TGCA in Class 6A, to the regional quarterfinals next week. It will play Friday’s winner between district rival Oak Ridge and Vandegrift.
The Woodlands as a program has been to the top with three trips to the state tournament since 2013. But next week will mark the eighth straight year of playing in the third round, which is a good sign of playoff success as well.
“There’s just a lot of tradition,” The Woodlands coach Terri Wade, who is in her fifth year with the team, said. “The next group (up), they want to do more. I think when you have a successful program, I think it just breeds that. It means a lot when we have the younger kids come and watch. I think they buy into it and want to be a part of it so much.”
After an easy sweep of Westfield in the bi-district round on Monday, Vista Ridge (26-20) provided a little more of a challenge. The Raiders are in the playoffs for the second straight year and in the area round for the first time since 2014.
Vista Ridge had its moments, but The Woodlands trailed just once all night - the opening point of the second set.
“We expect the teams to get better so we’re trying to up our level,” Wade said. “I think just did really well tonight. We looked good, our offense was on and we were moving together. We were meshing well on defense. It was fun.”
The Woodlands had 43 kills, led by senior Dylan Maberry with 14. Fellow senior Amanda Ifeanyi added 11 kills while freshman Julieta Valdes had seven. Maberry led in digs with 15 and blocks with four.
Junior setter Clara Brower had 33 assists to go with 10 digs. Senior Allie Griffith had 11 digs while junior Jackie Lee had 8 digs and two aces. Junior Claire Arend also had two aces.
In the next round, the Lady Highlanders will play a familiar foe no matter what. The Woodlands won two District 15-6A matches over Oak Ridge in the regular season and beat Vandegrift in a two-set match during the Leander Volleypalooza in August.
That makes preparation for the regional quarterfinals a little bit easier. But, The Woodlands are more concerned with themselves, Wade said.
“You don’t have to scout as much or search for film,” she said. “But we just know how important it is to play our best. No matter what else is going. We’re going to focus more on us.”