LAMPASAS — It was not just a win. It was a message.
Gatesville entered Monday’s season opener knowing the outcome would not make or break its 2018 campaign.
With dozens of matches remaining on the schedule, including a critical stretch against District 18-4A opponents, the Hornets could not accomplish or lose grasp of their goal of returning to the playoffs for a 16th consecutive season by beating Lampasas.
Nevertheless, Gatesville played with a purpose, and although the Hornets’ 25-9, 25-15, 25-7 victory against the Lady Badgers amounts to little more than a tick in the win column, Gatesville libero Daci Segraves feels its impact is much greater.
“It’s a big statement to ourselves,” the senior said. “This shows us that we can do it, and we can win every single game if we work hard enough and play together as a team.”
Junior teammate Sydney Mundkowsky agreed.
“This was really important,” the outside hitter said. “We can always look back on this, and now we know that we are always capable of what we accomplished tonight.”
The Hornets cruised to an opening-set victory, earning the match’s first eight points en route to creating a 15-3 cushion. The Lady Badgers pulled within nine points, 16-7, but Gatesville closed with a 9-2 outburst to clinch the win.
Then, the Hornets encountered resistance.
Punctuated by senior Sena Kucukkarca’s ace, Lampasas recorded three unanswered points to start the second set, and the teams were tied 12-12 minutes later.
The deadlock was quickly broken, however, as Mundkowsky’s kill triggered a 13-3 run to secure the set.
“The girls responded well,” Gatesville head coach Rickey Phillips said, “but the point is we can’t let our guard down against anybody. This is a game of momentum, and it doesn’t matter who you are playing, you have to keep your guard up.
“Once we got our guard back up, we got things going.”
With senior outside hitter Maci Matthews serving for the first six points of the third set, Gatesville took complete control, building a 14-7 advantage before closing the match with 11 consecutive points.
Now, the Hornets will look to maintain the momentum as they embark on a busy opening week.
Gatesville returns to the court tonight, hosting Waco University at 7 p.m. before beginning play at the three-day, 42-team Austin ISD Invitational on Thursday.
“The biggest thing for us is just learning to trust that our teammates are going to be there,” Segraves said. “We have to communicate that to each other and know that by building relationships on the court.
“We just need to build that trust and know everybody is going to do their job.”
But the Hornets intend to accomplish that in time. For now, Gatesville is content with being 1-0 because it was not just a win.
“You always want to win the first game regardless of who you are playing,” Phillips said, “but after two-a-days and scrimmages, you want to see if everything we’ve practiced is working.
“We wanted to come out and show that what we’ve been working on is sinking in, and tonight, we saw that it is.”
MONDAY’S HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
- Belton def. Round Rock Stony Point 21-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-19
- Gatesville def. Lampasas 25-9, 25-15, 25-7
- Shoemaker def. Austin Travis 25-20, 25-18, 25-5