While Arlington Martin outside hitter Christina Escamilla had her head in the game, a pair of over-sized cutouts of her head were being waved about in the visitors’ stands of the Lamar High gym.
Escamilla’s cheering section, which included her mother and aunt, was celebrating the senior’s final regular-season game. And what a game it was.
“I don’t mind,” Escamilla said of her family’s show of support. “At first I was embarrassed, but they’re going to do it either way. So you might as well let them.”
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Escamilla and her four fellow seniors didn’t let their final opportunity pass them by.
In her estimation, this isn’t the first year Martin could have dominated their district competition. But it’s the first season of her high school career that the Lady Warriors have come close to reaching their potential.
“I feel like we finally did what we could,” said Escamilla, who registered the final kill to wrap up the Lamar sweep. “We could have done it all these years.”
Junior setter Liz Carroll credits the seniors with creating a different atmosphere this season. “Our seniors are really dedicated this year and wanting to go far,” Carroll said.
Going far entails a deep run in the playoffs. That hasn’t happened in a while for Martin. The Lady Warriors have lost in the first round the past three seasons. But with bi-district scheduled for Oct. 30 at Brewer High School, taking on Keller Fossil Ridge, it’s time to show this team is different.
“Last year we didn’t really prepare,” senior outside hitter Emilie Ickes said. “Last year, we were happy with going to playoffs.”
Martin coach Tracy Perez-Petersen felt like her team was never obsessed with going undefeated in district. It was always about getting prepared for the postseason.
“We wanted to do well in district, but we were trying to get better for the next round, for playoffs,” she said.
Indeed, the Lady Warriors showed noticeable improvement throughout the regular season.
Martin was pushed to five games the first time it faced Mansfield. But the Lady Warriors bounced back from that early struggle. They wouldn’t need the full five games to dispatch any other district opponents.
“They caught us off guard,” Escamilla said of the first Mansfield game. “They were picking up a lot of our balls and got us frustrated.”
Martin seldom seems frustrated on the court, but they also rarely seem excited. Hyper focused is a more apt description of the Lady Warriors.
“When someone’s freaking out, we know how to calm her down,” Escamilla said. “We know how to get her back in the game. We know how to deal with each other’s emotions.”