LAMPASAS — Throughout the season, Salado showed other teams it can win. Now, the Lady Eagles are proving it to themselves.
Despite possessing a sub-.500 overall record, Salado entered Tuesday’s match at Lampasas in prime position to make a playoff push, and the Lady Eagles did not hurt their chances.
Salado used timely runs to pull away in each set en route to a 25-18, 25-20, 25-19 victory, and after the win, Lady Eagles head coach Kristi Wilk admitted witnessing her players maturing on the court.
“We are just starting to figure some things out,” she said. “They’re starting to get into the groove of finishing strong. We haven’t been able to do that all season, but we’re finally getting there.
“They’re just starting to have a lot more confidence in themselves and how good they really can be. They’re not second-guessing themselves as much as they were in the beginning of the season.”
Salado outside hitter Landry Rogers agreed.
“Once district started,” the junior said, “we just started getting more and more confident in ourselves and each other and the team as a whole.”
The Lady Eagles (13-20, 4-2 District 27-4A) were immediately forced to overcome challenges as Lampasas looked to build on its first district victory of the season Friday against Austin Eastside Memorial.
The Lady Badgers jumped out to a 5-2 advantage and led 12-10 after sophomore Megan Bobo’s block, but the cushion quickly evaporated as Salado embarked on a 9-1 outburst to take control before clinching the set by winning six of the final seven points.
Then, the scenario repeated itself.
Lampasas trailed by just two points, 14-12, in the second set, but lost any momentum when Salado used a 6-1 run to take control, and in the third set, the Lady Eagles snapped a 6-6 tie with six unanswered points.
Salado would need one more surge, however, to secure the match.
The Lady Badgers, who fell to 1-5 in district, pulled within two points at 20-18, but the Lady Eagles closed the contest by claiming five of the final six points, including Reagan Thrasher’s winning hit.
While it was not the outcome she wanted, Lampasas head coach Denise Ponder also believes her team is evolving.
“I want to see improvement,” she said, “and I want to see that the girls can defend against things that plagued us in the first half of district.
“Whatever our weaknesses were in the first match, I want to see if we adjusted and learned, and against Salado, I think we showed that we’ve improved since the first time we played.”
For the Lady Eagles, the objective is to continue building on their recent success and earn a playoff berth, beginning Friday at Eastside Memorial.
“We need to focus on every play,” Rogers said. “We all need to be in the game, and we can’t afford to play around.”
While Salado still has areas it can improve on, Wilk is pleased to see her team maturing.
“I couldn’t ask for things to start clicking for them mentally at a better point in the season,” Wilk said. “It’s just really nice to see this happening.”