FLORENCE — Nicole Pena does not intend to leave empty-handed again.
At last year’s Stampede Showdown, Shoemaker emerged from the three-day tournament as champions, helping springboard the program’s season.
Despite capturing the title, the Lady Grey Wolves’ libero left disappointed, and she has not forgotten why.
“We want to win back to back,” Pena said, “and it’s real important, because last year, we did not receive a trophy. So, we really want to bring a trophy home.
“We’ve got to get it this year.”
Shoemaker put itself in prime position to repeat Friday, sweeping their pool for the second consecutive day by beating host Florence, Taylor and Troy in straight sets to clinch a berth in today’s championship pool.
While the Lady Grey Wolves are focused on completing their tournament run, Shoemaker head coach Merdith Shaw-Moore believes her team is motivated by more than titles or trophies.
“They know what is at stake,” she said. “Missing the playoffs last season didn’t leave a good taste in their mouths, but they know what to expect this year, and they are hungry.
“They fight for every point, and we just go one by one.”
Regardless of motivation, the Lady Grey Wolves delivered a series of strong showings to improve their unblemished overall record to 7-0.
After opening the day with a 25-8, 25-7 victory against the Lady Buffaloes, Shoemaker swept Taylor 25-22, 25-13 before beating Troy 25-16, 25-21.
Although the Lady Grey Wolves won multiple sets easily, one of the team’s most impressive performances came on the heels of a slump.
Looking to sweep Troy, Shoemaker won the first four points of the second set, but the Lady Trojans rebounded, using a 17-5 outburst to create an eight-point cushion at 17-9.
Then, the Lady Grey Wolves rallied.
Behind standout play from seniors Alexia Wilkinson and Pena and juniors Tyra Williams and Emi’jah Spencer, Shoemaker responded by claiming 16 of the match’s final 20 points.
“That was a challenging stretch,” Pena said, “but I trusted all my teammates, and we put it all together.”
Now, with only three matches separating the Lady Grey Wolves from repeating as tournament champions, Shaw-Moore simply wants her team to continue playing with poise.
“It’s all about being the team that makes the fewest mistakes,” she said. “Nobody is perfect, and everybody is going to make mistakes, but you can’t keep making the same mistakes over and over.
“No matter what, we have to just keep playing point by point.”
LAMPASAS WINS TWICE
After losing all three matches on opening day, the Lady Badgers bounced back to win two of their three contests Friday and earn a spot in today’s bronze pool.
Led by sophomore Megan Bobo, who recorded a team high 12 kills and six aces on the day, Lampasas defeated Waco Rapoport Academy (25-10, 25-19) and Holland (25-23, 20-25, 25-11) before losing to Bruceville-Eddy 25-20, 25-23.
FLORENCE GETS SWEPT
The Lady Buffaloes showed fight in their finale, putting together late rallies in each set, but it was not enough to avoid losing all three of their matches.
Florence trailed Taylor 22-9 in the first set before going on a 11-5 run, and in the second set, the Lady Buffaloes closed the match with a 8-1 outburst, but they still lost 25-17, 25-19.
Along with its straight-set loss to Shoemaker, Florence also lost to Troy.
FRIDAY’S HIGH SCHOOL SCORES
Austin ISD Invitational
- Arlington Lamar def. Gatesville 25-10, 25-18
- Austin Bowie def. Gatesville 25-11, 25-15
- Copperas Cove def. Fredericksburg 25-23, 21-25, 25-21
- Copperas Cove def. Kerrville Tivy 27-25, 25-13
- Copperas Cove def. Kyle Lehman 25-11, 25-12
- DeSoto def. Killeen 25-13, 25-16
- Harker Heights def. Conroe 25-15, 25-19
- Hutto def. Harker Heights 25-15, 25-8
- Killeen def. Austin Lanier 25-16, 25-16
- Killeen def. Bryan Rudder 25-13, 16-25, 25-11
- Robinson def. Gatesville 25-12, 21-25, 25-13
- Round Rock Cedar Ridge def. Harker Heights 25-14, 25-9
Florence Stampede Showdown
- Bruceville-Eddy def. Lampasas 25-20, 25-23
- Lampasas def. Holland 25-23, 20-25, 25-11
- Lampasas def. Waco Rapoport Academy 25-10, 25-19
- Shoemaker def. Florence 25-8, 25-7
- Shoemaker def. Taylor 25-22, 25-13
- Shoemaker def. Troy 25-16, 25-21
- Taylor def. Florence 25-17, 25-19
Round Rock Westwood Showcase
- Austin Vandegrift def. Belton 25-15, 25-23
- Cedar Park def. Ellison 25-15, 21-25, 25-23
- Ellison def. Lorena 25-20, 25-21
- Leander def. Belton 25-16, 15-25, 25-17
- Round Rock McNeil def. Belton 20-25, 25-19, 25-14
- Round Rock Westwood def. Ellison 25-18, 25-18