There's just one formula for shedding the anxiety sweat that tends to show up close to the end of the volleyball season: Win.
Keller Central, which missed the playoffs with an inexperienced team in 2011, found itself in just that situation Tuesday when the Chargers overcame a first-set loss to defeat Richland.
"It's just one of those situations where you want to control your own destiny," coach Teri Kelso said. "We had to overcome a lot all year, and then last night was senior night at Richland. Add that on top, and it sure wasn't easy."
The win means Central (23-14, 7-5 in District 4-5A) is in third place in 4-5A with two games left in the regular season. Justin Northwest and Richland are contending for the fourth and final playoff spot.
"We talked about getting into the playoffs, and now that it looks like that's what is going to happen, we're talking about winning games in the playoffs," Central libero Alyssa Aldag said.
Aldag has been the defensive specialist that gives Central an advantage in the back row. She has 669 digs this season.
"For me, I like to move around where other defensive players don't do that," she said. "I'm trying to anticipate and catch our opponent off guard so that we have the very best chance to get the tough points."
Middle blocker Briana Dorsey leads the team in kills with 239, and outside hitter Alexis Emanuel has 223. But setter Sydney Rochelle is third in kills with 188 and also leads the team in assists with 1,024.
"I'm just proud of how much better they got during the off-season and then how they've kept it together here as of late," Kelso said.
It's hard to believe Ashley Elrod is off the radar screens of most Division I college recruiters. She's been the glue that has held Arlington Lamar together with a prolific effort on offense this season.
To hear it from her, she's OK with that as well. Stepping away from a recruiting visit Tuesday night from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, she laughed when asked why she's not considering bigger programs or contacting them.
"Are you kidding? It's Corpus Christi; there's a beach," she said.
Priorities are certainly right on the money for Elrod as her play matches the free-spirit style she's using to select a college. She has 522 kills and 422 digs this season.
Friday's key game
North Crowley at Arlington Martin, 5:30 p.m.: Martin needs this win to keep pace for a chance at the district title; same for North Crowley.
Tuesday's key games
Arlington Martin at Arlington, 6:30 p.m.: If the Warriors can get past North Crowley, this could be a showdown for a share of the district title.
Wichita Falls Rider at Trophy Club Nelson, 6:30 p.m.: Can Nelson polish off a district title?
FW Trimble Tech at FW Western Hills, 6:30 p.m.: This could be a huge game for Tech to make the playoffs.
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