Varsity opened up playoffs on Tuesday as the top seed coming out of District 17, taking on Westside, the 4th place from District 18, at Don Coleman Coliseum. The Spartans opened up a huge lead and never looked back, finishing with a straight-set trouncing of the Wolves, 25-8, 25-12, 25-10 to claim the Bi-District title for the second year in a row.
The win put the team on a collision course with the 2020 State Champion Spartans of Seven Lakes High School. Though not at the power of its championship squad, the 2022 Seven Lakes team still possessed top-level talent, coming into the matchup with a 27-15 record and finishing 3rd in the ultra competitive District 19 in Katy.
Varsity was supported in the trip to Katy’s Merrell Center by a large contingent of family and friends, members of the football and basketball teams, Varsity Basketball Coach Brett Nixon, and the enthusiastic and talented JV cheerleaders.
The first set started out very competitive with the teams trading leads several time throughout. Approaching the end of the first set, with the team down 17-19, disaster struck as star middle blocker senior Sharlotte McClintock went down with an ankle injury. After a long silence, Sharlotte was helped to the sideline and subbed out.
When play resumed, Stratford grabbed ahold of the set with a furious rally sparked by a perfectly placed tip kill by senior Keely Fitzpatrick, who had subbed in for Sharlotte and who went on to play inspired throughout. When the dust settled, Stratford prevailed in the first set 25-23. The team carried that momentum into the second set and jumped out to a huge lead en route to an easy 25-12 margin.
At that point, it appeared the team would finish off yet another rout on their way to the next round. Nothing could be further from the truth. Seven Lakes summoned the heart from their championship run and captured the next two nail-biter sets in dramatic fashion 25-23 and 26-24 to force a deciding fifth set.
Stratford opened up a small lead in the final set on the power hitting of junior Chloe Popkin and senior Sophia Cornell, both of whom may have had their best games this year. A crazy, acrobatic point was finished off with a Cornell kill to bring the score to match point at 14-12 Stratford. After a short rally, the ball was set once more to Cornell, who sent a thunderous shot deflecting off a Seven Lakes block, forcing the ball well wide and allowing the entire Stratford side of Merrell Center to jump for joy.
The victory earned Stratford its first Area title since 2010. On Monday, the Spartans (34-11) will take their 17-match win streak to Delmar Fieldhouse for a Regional Quarterfinal matchup against Cinco Ranch. The game is scheduled to begin at 5 pm. Let’s get there early and loud and support these ladies in their march toward State.
Who - YOU
What - Volleyball Regional Quarterfinals vs Cinco Ranch
Where - Delmar Fieldhouse
When - Monday 5pm
How - LOUD
Playoff Stats for Rounds 1 and 2
Skylar George: 29 kills (.250 hitting efficiency), 22 digs, 4 aces, 2 blocks
Audrey Cook: 35 assists: 9 digs, 8 aces
Chloe Popkin: 20 kills (.245 hitting efficiency), 8 digs
Sophia Cornell: 13 kills (.289 hitting efficiency), 4 blocks
Emma Hickman: 6 kills (.500 hitting efficiency), 5 blocks
Olivia Abbott: 35 digs, 7 aces
Izzy Rodriguez: 19 digs, 3 aces
Nina Terry: 26 assists, 8 digs
Tag(s): Varsity VB