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Ellison setter Samantha Robinson, above, fires up her teammates during Tuesday night’s win over Waco Connally. 

Tuesday night. Ellison High School.

The Lady Eagles volleyball team was leading Waco Connally 22-16 in Game 2 of a best-of-five match. Ellison had taken Game 1, 25-17.

Lady Eagles junior setter Samantha Robinson received a back-row pass. Meanwhile, teammate Symone Thomas had already gone airborne.

Robinson decided to feed Thomas.

It’s no easy set.

“You are shooting it into the hitter,” explained Ellison head coach Sarah Stolley.

Robinson went for it. She delivered the shoot-set. Then a still-in-flight Thomas blasted the volleyball into the back corner of Connally’s side of the floor.

No Lady Cadet went for the ball. Why would they? Before any of them even blinked, that volleyball had already ricocheted straight off the floor and into the stands.

“That shoot-set between Samantha and Symone was awesome,” Stolley said. “It gave our team so much confidence.”

The Lady Eagles (13-7) went on to win Game 2, 25-17, and they dominated Game 3, cruising to a 25-12 win and a straight-set victory.

“Sammy is an amazing setter,” said Thomas, a junior. “I didn’t know she’d go to me on that big play we made in Game 2. She not only can trick the other team, she can fool us, too. Our job as hitters is just to run the play no matter what.”

In Ellison’s Tuesday win, Robinson had a match-high 27 assists.

“We can’t play a game without Sam,” Thomas said. “We need her. Tonight she did what she always does, she played great. She bombed!”

And for those of you readers over age 21, “bombed” is a good thing.

“Yes,” said Thomas with a hearty laugh, “‘bombed’ means ‘awesome.’”

Lady Eagle junior Kieran Means had a match-high 12 kills on Tuesday.

“Sam is like our quarterback,” Means said. “She’s the brains of our team. Tonight? She bombed! She made sets that you wouldn’t think are possible.”

The 5-foot-6 Robinson prefers to deflect all praise to her teammates.

“Our hitters were amazing tonight,” Robinson said after the win over Connally. “I just do what I have to do. I feed whoever is hot. It’s crazy how many hitters we have. We just started slamming holes in the ground tonight.

“And we need a good pass to me to even make a good set. Melissa Ruiz, Natalie Rojas, Jaraysia Hope and Tori Urbas make the passes.”

Robinson has greatly impressed her head coach this year.

“It’s crazy how much Sam has improved since last season,” Stolley said. “She’s the leader of our team. The girls love her and they trust her — and that’s huge. Her energy is great, her attitude is great and her conditioning is great. She’s so coachable. You tell her something once and she says, ‘I got it,’ and it’s fixed.

“She gets everyone the ball; she’s excellent at sharing the wealth. She can help everyone on the floor and no one takes it personal because they know it’s coming from a good person who is so well intentioned.

“She is a dream to coach.”

Contact Allan Mandell at or 254-501-7566 and read his column at

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