AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Brackenridge, Highlands, Sam Houston.
In sports, as in life, there is no substitute for leadership.
As the season has progressed for Sam Houston (7-11, 3-2), that has been a primary area of growth – and it’s reflected in the Hurricanes’ recent successes. They split two District 28-5A matches Sept. 9 and Sept. 11, defeating Brackenridge (6-21, 1-4) and losing to contender Highlands (13-7, 3-1) after a tough battle.
“Natalie Coburn, Rita Davis and Alejandra Mendez are great leaders,” Sam Houston coach Courtney Davis said. “They’re always strong on the court. It’s good to have that on the team.”
Sam Houston swept Brackenridge 25-16, 25-12, 25-17. Highlands prevailed 25-11, 23-25, 25-19, 25-18. Both matches took place at the Alamo Convocation Center.
The Hurricanes finished the week in playoff position, but their coach said it was too soon to worry about finishing in the district’s top four.
“Later on, I’m hoping we’ll still be in the same, or better, position,” she said. “They’ve started working as a team, and that’s what we need to get to the next level.”
The Hurricanes had won four of their last six matches.
“We’ve come together as a team,” Courtney Davis said. “All the girls are really playing well at the same time. Our passing has gotten so much better. This is the first time in years that we’ve had as good a passing team as this.”
Against Brackenridge, Davis showed the way with 19 assists, four digs, two service aces and even two blocks. The senior setter distributed 24 assists in the Highlands match.
“Rita is such a hard worker,” Courtney Davis said. “It’s her fourth year on varsity and she’s been going all-out every year. She doesn’t stop playing volleyball all year.
“She’s our leader on and off the court. Rita gets the girls pumped up and ready to go.”
Coburn recorded eight kills, Tiara McGarity had six and Mendez added five against Brack. Mendez is a sophomore who transferred from Mexico this season and has helped fortify the team’s passing and defense.
For Brackenridge, senior Skyler Reyna hustled for 13 digs, Courtney Hansford made six kills and Yara Chavarria finished with five assists.
“I don’t think we really gave Brackenridge to get anything going,” Courtney Davis said.
Coburn also produced 12 digs and two blocks against the Eagles. The junior served three aces and contributed 11 digs versus Highlands.
“If Rita ever needs a push,” Davis said, “Natalie gives her that push.”
Jakailah McBride connected for five blocks in both matches. Ariyan Mondy made four digs against the Eagles.
“We had a very slow start,” Davis said of the Highlands match. “I don’t think we warmed up very well. It took us an entire game to get warmed up, but when the second game came around we were ready to go.
“I don’t remember a point where it kind of sparked us and got us going. We just realized it was game time. We needed to fight for it after that first game. We needed to pick it up and start playing a lot harder ”
Brackenridge recovered to defeat rival Burbank (5-13 ???, 1-3) 25-13, 13-25, 25-14, 25-22 Sept. 11 in another match at the ACC.