The last time the El Campo Ladybird volleyball program made it past the first round of the playoffs was in 2015, until Thursday night when they swept the Scarborough Lady Spartans at the Houston Pavilion Arena.
Since their last win the team has had four different head coaches and four first-round exits with three losses to Bellville and one to Sealy. However, after realignment, El Campo moved into a new region and district, which included Sealy and Bellville, meaning they wouldn’t play either in the first round.
The Ladybirds Tuesday night exercised four years of first-round losses, demolishing the Lady Spartans 25-12, 25-10, 25-13.
“We were on. We were getting good passes, good sets and kills,” senior setter Georgia Priesmeyer said. “The other team was giving a lot of free balls which gave us the opportunity to practice our offense and the plays that we run off of free balls.”
A lot was working for the Ladybirds against Scarborough. Sophomore Kate Bodungen had a big game that included a 10-0 run in the second set, were she served every point and scored on four aces and one tipped ball. Bodungen and the Ladybirds other starting outside hitter junior Ella Jenkins put down many kills with the Lady Spartans not able to stop their swings.
In the opening set, the Ladybirds raced out to a 7-1 lead with junior Alyssa Mendez and senior Madisyn Matlock, each picking up two aces, setting the scene for the rest of the night.
Scarborough offered little resistance. In the three sets, Scarborough strung three straight points together four times. When they tried to build a little bit of momentum, the Ladybirds grabbed back control, closing out each set.
“It feels great to be able to say we get to go on to round two this year,” Priesmeyer said. “It’s something us seniors for the past four years and we’re really excited to go and compete in the second round this year.”
Priesmeyer, Madisyn and her sister Mackenzie, the team’s starting libero, are the Ladybirds only seniors this season.
During the game, Ladybirds coach Kelsey Johns was able to mix in several junior varsity players who were called up for the playoffs.
While the win was uplifting for the program, the road will get tougher for El Campo.
“You don’t know what to expect when you hit the court,” Johns said. “That’s what I told them (before the game). I don’t know how (good) they are but we’re going to play up. The next round is not going to be like this. We got to get all the kinks out now and keep going.”
If the Ladybirds are shooting for more history to break, the last time El Campo made it past the second round was in 2008 when they made it to the regional semifinals.
Next week, likely Monday or Tuesday, the Ladybirds will play the Bridge City Lady Cardinals who beat Hardin-Jefferson in four sets Thursday night. Bridge City did not make the playoffs last season.