It's been at least five years since Arlington Martin faced the anomaly of back-to-back losses.
So uncommon is it for the tradition-rich program, that setter Claire Kilpatrick said she and the Warriors might have been in elementary school the last time it happened.
North Crowley defeated the Warriors on Sept. 25 creating a four-way tie for the lead in District 3-5A, and Arlington beat Martin on Friday to drop the Warriors into third place.
"We really didn't know how to react," Kilpatrick said. "It hadn't happened, but what it did do was force us to look around and realize we weren't having much fun; we were too serious."
Coach Tracy Peterson said she wants her team to play more cerebrally, but that approach will not work if players aren't having fun.
"These kids are used to hitting the ball hard," Peterson said. "But I really want us to work on ball control now. We just can't out-hit every opponent. We have to play smart."
That starts with libero Chelsea Mardock. She's had 419 assists this year and a 1.85 passing average.
"Our game starts with her and in years past that hasn't been the case," Peterson said. "But she brings a dynamic that really opens up every part of our game."
Martin's game plan forces most teams out of their comfort zone by having to account for so many weapons.
Peterson said one-dimensional play and not being prepared for how much better North Crowley and Arlington were plagued the Warriors last week.
Still, Martin is strong on the outside with Kilpatrick and middle blocker Alexis Wright.
Wright has 244 kills this season and Kilpatrick and Mardock have 104 kills each.
However, Kilpatrick is what Peterson calls an everything player.
Kilpatrick has worked on setting this year while playing strong defense and hammering the ball at the left side of the net.
"I'm so surprised by her abilities because she works so hard on setting, but she's so good at just about everything else," Peterson said.
While Arlington took the lead in district with a win over North Crowley on Tuesday night, Peterson said she talks to her team about the necessity to finish.
"Everyone wants to be perfect and go undefeated," she said. "But that's not realistic every year.
"If we stay with what we know, we'll be there at the end of the season and have a say-so in deciding who wins district."
Saginaw and Saginaw Boswell staged their crosstown rivalry under different conditions Tuesday.
The game capped an evening of support for the Susan G. Komen foundation. Saginaw held a serve-a-thon with its feeder middle schools and fans were encouraged to wear pink for the event.
The event raised $3,500 and Saginaw defeated Boswell in four sets.
Friday's key games
FW Trimble Tech at Arlington Heights, 5:30 p.m.: Tech still has a chance to make the playoffs, but needs a victory over Heights for position and potential tiebreaks.
Arlington Lamar at Arlington, 6:30 p.m.: A rematch of the Colts' only loss in district this season. Lamar is strong but looking up again.
Tuesday's key games
Granbury at Aledo, 6:30 p.m.: Matchup of first- and second-place teams in District 7-4A, and the Bearcats can take big step toward wrapping up the title.
Keller at Keller Timber Creek, 6:30 p.m.: Timber Creek needs a victory here to keep its playoff hopes alive. Keller is looking to keep pace with one district loss.
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