For a team to be a champion, it must have talent, depth, and determination. The Lady Cougars had all three things on full display Tuesday night at Rudder Gym against the Lady Rangers.
Facing a determined "playoff seeking" Rudder squad, the Lady Cougars found themselves in a 2 game to 0 hole early in the contest. But...the grit and determination that has been a hallmark of this team was about to make a much needed appearance. For the first two games, every attack attempt by the Lady Rangers seemed to find the floor raising the ire and frustration level of the Lady Cougars. Changes were made and the depth of the Lady Cougars began to take over.
Early in game 2 the Lady Cougars lost the services of starting libero Brady Gillum as she was on her way to the hospital for what would be diagnosed as a broken hand. This is the third possible season ending injury for a Cougar player as the Lady Cougars had previously lost outside hitter Sarah Hancock (back) and Keaton Schrank (knee) for the remainder of this season. This is 1/2 of the starting lineup in last season's state final four appearance.
Funny thing happened though as the Rangers began to celebrate.....the Lady Cougars weren't finished. Starting in game 3 Sophia Rangel (25 digs) took over the libero role, and along with the fierce efforts of Haley Wagner and Bailey Bennett, formed an absolute wall. The earlier attacks that found holes for the Lady Rangers were being dug now which was allowing the hitting and talent of the Lady Cougars to take over. Armed with several hitters, the Cougar attack, led by Haley Wagner (39 assists, 20 digs), took over the match. Junior Maddie Dudley (4 kills, 2 aces) was brought in midway through game 3 and immediately made her presence known with two quick kills to lead the Cougars to a victory. Maddie might have had the 2 deciding kills to ensure a game 4, but all hitters were beginning to get into the act. Juniors Kassidy McCabe (9 kills) and Mary Pettibon (14 kills), Senior Rachel Nelson (7 kills), and Sophomore Bailey Bennett (9 kills) attacked from all sides and angles to set up a deciding game 5.
As game 5 got underway, both teams decided they either wanted to get into playoffs (Rudder) or ensure their tie for the 2nd place in the district (Cougars). Long rallies were the name of the game for this set. The experience was beginning to show for the Lady Cougars. Dudley and Nelson who both came in off the bench earlier in the match provided 2 aces and 2 blocks respectively to join their remaining teammates in a match deciding game 5 victory. The depth, determination, and talent led the Lady Cougars in this highly energized cross town victory and on to the playoffs.
The playoffs will begin next week. More details will follow as they are released. The final standings for District 18-5A are as follows:
College Station 11-3
A&M Consolidated 11-3
Caney Creek 0-14
For the battle of "in-town supremacy" the Lady Cougars finished with a 5-1 record followed by Consolidated 4-2, Rudder 3-3, and Bryan 0-6.
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