Lamar volleyball is heating up, yet senior setter Kendall Hagman and her teammates find it’s easiest to keep things cool.
That is to say, the Lady Vikings entered district play on the heels of a dominant run through tournament season. The Lady Vikings, who opened District 4-6A play Friday against rival Martin with a 3-1 win, won the recent Arlington Invitational. They also won the Jason Landers Tournament in Austin.
And that success in tournament play started with the Lady Vikings’ calm and cool demeanor. It’s a newfound swagger the Lady Vikings have developed this season, Hagman said.
“We all legitimately want to win, which, believe it or not, is pretty rare in a team,” Hagman said. “We all want to be in the gym working hard.”
Part of what fuels Lamar’s competitiveness is a set of new traditions that second-year coach Heather Woodman has helped institute. “A lot of it is off the court just as far as attitude goes,” said Hagman, who was named all-tournament in the Landers and Northwest ISD tournaments. “It all starts with some new traditions that keep the morale up.”
One of the morale-boosting traditions is a series of cheers before and during each match that keeps Lamar in a winning mindset. “We always dance in the halls to warm up, and we have a special cheer that we do before the game. We say, ‘Viking fight never dies,’ ” said senior middle block Olivia Viscuso, the most valuable player of the Arlington Invitational. “We pump each other up. We get each other ready.”
The players pump each other up during a match by doing special chants for certain accomplishments. “We have different cheers for if somebody gets an ace or somebody gets a block,” Hagman said.
The Lady Vikings had plenty of chances to cheer aces and blocks last week when they swept nondistrict opponent Euless Trinity on the road. “We’re a confident team,” said senior libero Taylor Murata, who was named the most valuable defender at the Arlington Invitational. “We just have to make sure we’re working hard every time we go out there.”
Lamar’s confidence helped the team overcome some adverse situations at the Arlington Invitational. An early loss to Denton Guyer meant the Lady Vikings faced a difficult path to the tournament championship game.
That path included facing district opponent North Crowley, the reigning 4-6A champion, in the tournament semifinals. Lamar pulled out a victory in the third and deciding game to advance to the championship match.
“We did beat district rival North Crowley in this tournament and we beat them in a very tight third set,” Hagman said. “And games like that where you overcome the odds and pull it out to win the whole thing and your team is recognized for how hard you’ve worked, it just feels good.”
Woodman, who took Lamar to the playoffs in her first season, feels good about her team’s effort level. Lamar lost to Waxahachie in the Northwest tournament, then beat that same squad the following week in the Arlington Invitational.
“They scraped and scraped and fought off a district opponent and then fought off Waxahachie, which beat us the previous weekend at the Northwest tournament,” Woodman said. “So the girls, I feel like, have something to prove. It’s amazing to see the fight in them.”
Hagman expects the team’s calm competitiveness to be a strong asset in district play. “When it gets tough, when it gets tenuous, we get excited,” Hagman said. “And when you get a point, it gives you the energy to push through to the next point. You just have to have the confidence that you can put the ball away, that you can do your job to the best of your ability.”