Whether it’s a single, crucial play, a new player’s presence or an important game itself, there are pivotal moments for teams that can change the course of a season.
These moments can do as little as provide a spark for struggling team, or they can deliver a season-changing victory that helps a program reach the playoffs or win a championship.
Sometimes, a pivotal moment is not necessarily a positive thing for a team, but can inspiration or a lesson.
Several local volleyball teams have had such moments this season.
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School: Haslet Eaton
Opponent: Justin Northwest
What happened: In Eaton’s first match against the Texans on Sept. 29, the Lady Eagles rallied twice to win 3-2 in the first real rivalry game for the program.
“The football team had just beaten Northwest the night before, so our student section was full and loud,” coach Diane Wilson said. “The atmosphere was intense.”
Why it was pivotal: “We won, giving the team the feeling that they have arrived and were able to represent the school with pride,” Wilson said. “It’s probably the biggest emotional win for the program.”
School: Mansfield Lake Ridge
What happened: After enduring numerous injuries, things finally started to come together for Lake Ridge in their second-round match up on Oct. 6 with the Lady Indians.
“This season has been tough on us with different players out at different times,” coach Jessica Tyler said. “We had not suited up an entire roster with everyone ready to go until Oct. 6. We were finally able to see our full potential on this night as we defeated Waxahachie in three to give us the second win over them in a single season. This has not happened in our history.”
Why it was pivotal: “That evening, I feel like the girls realized how much hard work pays off and how we need all 15 players to complete the puzzle,” Tyler said.
What happened: In the second-to-last game of the regular season, The Lady Mustangs squared off with Richland in what would turn out to be exactly the kind of game coach Whitney Woody was hoping for just prior to the start of the postseason.
“The match against Richland at home was definitely the cleanest match we played all season and really gave us some momentum to head into playoffs,” Woody said.
Why it was pivotal: “All players had an impact in the preparation and execution in that match, and we truly played as one heart and one team that night,” Woody said. “It was poetic.”
School: Keller Timber Creek
Opponent: Keller Fossil Ridge
What happened: Timber Creek defeated Fossil Ridge in three straight on Sept. 29.
Why it was pivotal: “Last year we finished the season in fifth place behind Fossil Ridge, and the seniors on varsity have lost to Ridge in previous seasons,” coach Erin Wood said. “So, we have a bit of a rivalry going. Despite beating some very competitive teams in preseason, winning this match made it feel like we had finally proven ourselves as a team that should not be overlooked.
“This is also the first match of this season that we truly played 100 percent as one team. Everyone had energy and was invested in every point of the match. It was truly an amazing thing to experience.”
School: Trophy Club Nelson
Player: Meredith Fusselman
Opponent: Flower Mound
What happened: This was the first match Nelson played without team captain and starting setter, Meredith Fusselman. The Lady Bobcats junior injured herself in practice the day before their second district match, which was against Flower Mound. The team had already been struggling. It had lost three of five matches heading into the contest with Flower Mound and “losing our starting setter at the beginning of the district season was a big blow,” coach Libby Pacheco said. Nelson’s pivotal point of the season did not come from a win, but rather “a pretty bad loss” against Flower Mound at home on Sept. 12.
Why it was pivotal: “After this loss, we had to figure out our identity as a team moving forward through district and what we needed to change in order to still reach our goals,” Pacheco said. “We had a great team meeting, a couple of great practices and played a much better match against Carroll in our next outing. We lost that match against Carroll; however, we played much better and it was the start of big improvements with our team.”
School: Keller Fossil Ridge
What happened: Following a tough non-district schedule that included to the likes of Leander, Vandergrift, Allen and Trophy Club Nelson, the Lady Panthers had a losing record, just as coach Hollie Huston had expected. “As a coach who doesn’t care particularly about our record until district, I tend to drive us pretty hard,” Huston said. “There might be one or two games that I feel we should win easily and get all our subs in, but outside of that, the teams that I coach need every minute to prepare.”
But, Huston acknowledged, the losses started to take a toll on her players.
“While I’m used to it, I forget that they may not be,” Huston said. “So, we lost a lot early on. We work towards growth and if a win happens, it’s all the more great. Our kids worked hard and kept fighting.”
Why it was pivotal: “Our kids felt like they started clicking after the game vs. Saginaw,” Huston said.
Huston said the victory gave her team a huge boost of morale at a critical point in the season.
“We felt like we had finally come to a place where the defense was making sense and offense was connecting,” Huston said. “We were able to use the momentum to move into district.”