CORPUS CHRISTI – The Tuloso-Midway Cherokees volleyball team was riding a wave of momentum heading into the team’s home opener Tuesday night at Bobby Craig Gymnasium.
That did not bode well for the visiting Orange Grove Lady Bulldogs.
T-M (7-1) continued its hot start to the season, sweeping OG 26-24, 25-11, 25-15.
“They’re definitely on a high,” Cherokees coach Jamie Gill said of her squad. “I think they were a little nervous game one – the first home game and I have a ton of freshmen – so there were a couple jitters, but I think games two and three they definitely relaxed a little bit more and played their game.”
The two teams traded points in the opening set, with T-M leading by as many as five. The Cherokees were up 22-18 before a run by the Lady Bulldogs.
OG scored six consecutive points to put T-M on the ropes at 24-22. The Cherokees stayed alive with back-to-back points to tie it once again.
The next rally saw a Lady Bulldogs spike land outside the court. OG’s players protested that the ball was tipped by a Cherokee, but the referee awarded T-M the point. The Cherokees capitalized, winning the first set on the next serve.
“I saw change of direction, which to me means it’s a tip, it came off and went the other direction,” OG coach Jamye Linebarger said. “But it’s like I told the girls, you can’t sit there and worry about what the officials call. You’ve just got to keep going with you game.
“Our whole purpose of playing teams like Tuloso is to better who we are. It’s not about wins or losses or calls that the officials make. It’s just about playing so we can get better.”
The effects of the call seemed to carry over into the second game.
T-M raced out to a 6-1 lead and never trailed in a dominant second-set win.
“We talked about letting (the call) go and moving forward, but we kind of got in a rut,” Linebarger said. “In the past, we weren’t used to playing this caliber of a team this early in the season. That’s the whole reason we set the schedule…I think that was more on us and less on the call.”
The third game started with little separating the two. The teams traded leads with neither going ahead by more than four. The Lady Bulldogs pulled within one before the Cherokees ended the match with a big spurt.
T-M closed on a 10-1 run to seal the victory.
“I actually expect more,” Gill said. “They’re not where I want them at all. They have the physical game, but we’re working on the mental game as well.”
Kelsi Luckenback had a match-high eight kills and three blocks. Cherokee teammate Katherine Quinton added six kills and eight digs.
Karalee Kocurek led the Lady Bulldogs with seven kills, four assists and two blocks.
T-M's Lauren Turner and Jamie Horman combined for 27 assists. Ana Gonzalez led the team in digs (13) and also aces (5).
Hannah Allison had 13 digs and four blocks, tops for OG.