A team that was craving playoff success with only one player on its roster with any postseason experience, Keller Central shrugged off a nervous start to defeat Arlington Martin 14-25, 25-16, 25-20, 25-21 in a Class 6A Region I bi-district volleyball match at L.D. Bell High School on Tuesday night.
Central (33-9) recorded its first playoff victory in six years and will take on El Paso Coronado (31-5) in the area round, likely on Friday.
“It’s really happening and I just felt like falling to the ground too when the ball hit the floor,” Central coach Terri Kelso said. “It’s so exciting because they work so hard.”
Only senior setter Jaycie Fuller had playoff experience as the Chargers had been one-and-done the past four years, and it showed to start.
Martin (26-11) used a 12-2 run in the opening set to take a 13-3 lead to force a timeout from Kelso. The Warriors went up 12 multiple times before extending it to 13 at 22-9. Junior Emilie Ickes paced Martin before Nya Blair spiked the game winner.
“I think after the first set, we just got rid of all the nerves and we knew we just had to step up,” Fuller said. “That wasn’t the team we were and we had to prove ourselves in the next three.”
The Chargers made quick work of the second set as Amanda Lord had three kills. Lauren Cox’s kill won the set to tie the match at 1-1.
The third set saw nine ties, the last at 18-18. Faith Davis and Gretchen Zedik gave Central a 20-18 lead and the Chargers went on to take a 2-1 lead.
The fourth set produced eight more ties as Central scored three straight to take a 20-18 lead. Martin rallied to tie it at 21-21, but kills from Peyton Hining and Cox clinched the victory for the Chargers.
“We had a goal in the beginning that we were going to make it to the second round and to actually go through with it is the most amazing feeling ever,” Hining said.
Lord and Cox led with 11 and 10 kills for Central. Faith Davis had nine kills, three aces and 11 digs while Fuller had a team-high 26 digs. Lauryn Davis added 39 assists and 10 digs.
Two of the best area teams in Class 5A Region I took care of the first round as Saginaw Boswell and Aledo recorded sweeps over Denton and Denison, respectively.
Boswell (38-9) got 10 kills from UT Arlington commit Kailyn Gilbreath. Natalie Smith had 17 digs and Kylie Courtney had 38 assists. The Pioneers will take on Birdville (25-15), which swept Fort Worth Arlington Heights.
Aledo (37-8) will play Richland (20-19) in the area round. The Rebels swept Fort Worth Western Hills.
More rare wins
Fort Worth Paschal (33-7) continued a historic season with a four-set win over Keller Fossil Ridge. The Panthers, who earned their first district title since 1987, move on to face Midland in the Class 6A Region I area round.
It was Paschal’s first playoff win since its last appearance in 2011.
Justin Northwest (30-12) won its first playoff game since 2005 with a sweep over Wichita Falls Rider. The Texans will face Colleyville Heritage (34-8), which beat Fort Worth South Hills, in the 5A Region I area round.