Shoemaker won the match, but more importantly, the Lady Grey Wolves learned a lesson.
With the opening of District 8-6A play looming next week, Shoemaker is trying to prepare for a potential run to the postseason, but Lady Grey Wolves head coach Merdith Shaw-Moore knows it will not be easy. So she is stressing the importance of being mentally focused throughout the entirety of every match.
Tuesday evening, Shoemaker failed to adhere to the philosophy.
After capping off a lopsided opening set against visiting Marble Falls with a 15-3 outburst, the Lady Grey Wolves found themselves in a back-and-forth affair before emerging with a 25-11, 18-25, 25-18, 26-24 victory.
Although it was admittedly disappointing to lose the momentum generated early, the experience proved extremely valuable.
“The energy got lax in the second set,” Shaw-Moore said, “and we can’t do that. If we come out with a lot of intensity, we still have to raise it even higher in the next set.
“But these girls are young, and they are learning, and I’m proud of them for that.”
Shoemaker middle blocker Charlene Shepherd agreed with the assessment.
“We just got big-headed,” the senior said, “and since we got a big lead in the first set, we just figured we’d do it in the second set too, but it didn’t turn out that way.
“But this was a great lesson. Anytime something like that happens, you always have to learn from it.”
The Lady Grey Wolves were never
challenged in the first set as libero Nicole Peña served up consecutive aces to begin the match, spurring her team to a 7-2 advantage. Moments later, Shoemaker embarked on its set-clinching run.
The roles reversed in the second set, though, as Marble Falls (8-9) claimed 10 of the first 14 points before thwarting a pair of attempted rallies late.
But the Lady Grey Wolves rebounded.
After giving up the first point of the third set, Shoemaker (23-7) never trailed for the duration, using 6-2 run to secure the set. Then, in the fourth set, the Lady Grey Wolves battled out of a 20-18 hole to force five ties before Tyra Williams and Cherith Hicks tallied consecutive kills to capture the victory.
“This really builds our confidence up as a team,” Shoemaker setter Alexia Wilkinson said.
Wilkinson finished the match with a team-high 17 assists, while Shepherd recorded nine kills to pace the Lady Grey Wolves’ offense.
Defensively, Shepherd accounted for nine of her team’s 21 blocks, and Peña was responsible for 11 digs.
Now, Shoemaker turns its attention to its final two contests — a home match against Waco on Friday and a road trip to Lampasas on Tuesday — before beginning district play Sept. 8 at defending champion Waco Midway.
Although the Lady Grey Wolves survived a slip in intensity against Marble Falls, Shaw-Moore feels her team cannot afford to repeat the performance.
“Each and every year,” she said, “we have to fight through something. Nobody ever counts us in, and that is adversity.
“So, we’re just trying to learn to come out and give it everything we’ve got every night and play through difficult times. No matter what, we have to be able to just keep fighting.”