Latexo’s varsity volleyball team consists of (front l-r) Madison Kelsey, Jordan Davenport, Diana Maza; (back l-r) Harli Brent, Bailey Ingle, Baylee Granberry, Alyssa Coad and Aliya Lane.
Latexo volleyball coach Katie Brown started her second season with a young squad, but she's been thrilled with the early results. In their first two matches of the season, the Lady Tigers posted hard-fought five-game decisions over Groveton and Crockett, a pair of class 3A opponents.
Hosting Crockett on Friday Aug.11, the Lady Tigers outlasted their Houston County neighbors 22-25, 25-15, 19-25, 25-21, 16-13. "We're a very young team. I only have one senior, two juniors and the rest are all sophomores," said Coach Brown, who graduated three players off last year's squad.
Three of the returning players were All-District performers last season.
Senior Jordan Davenport, a First Team All-District honoree, is playing libero this season.
Sophomore Baylee Granberry, a Second Team All-District choice, plays setter/outside hitter.
Junior Alyssa Coad, who received Honorable Mention, is an outside hitter.
Other varsity players are junior Bailey Ingle, middle; sophomore Aliya Lane, outside hitter, and sophomore Madison Kelsey, rightside hitter. Moving up from the JV are Diana Maza, setter, and Harli Brent, middle.
"The first game against Groveton we had to shake the rust off of our game play, but then the girls got into the swing of everything. It was nice to see them pull back into their normal routine of playing volleyball. I'm excited for this year," said Brown.
Latexo competes in District 22-2A, which includes No. 1 ranked and two-time defending state champion Iola. Centerville was second last year, North Zulch third and Normangee fourth.
With district play starting in just three weeks, the Lady Tigers had a Tuesday night match with Elkhart before making their first tournament appearance at Groveton on Thursday and Saturday, Aug. 17 and 19.
Preseason football drills in Texas are normally associated with scorching summer heat, but players hitting the practice field in Houston County on Monday were treated to unusually mild temperatures that remained in the high 70s to low 80s.
With seasonal temperatures forecast to return later this week, players and coaches are bracing for the inevitable dog days of summer.
After the mandatory four-days of acclimatization, players will strap on shoulder pads for the first time Friday as the intensity level is turned up a few notches.
BULLDOGS Crockett Head Coach Jimmy Thompson said 57 prospects reported for duty Monday, but he's expecting a few more late starters.
"We'll get a lot of teaching and technique work done these first four days of conditioning," said Thompson.
The Bulldogs are picked to finish second in their district, but have to fill some key positions left vacant by graduating seniors.
Two-a-days are held from 8 a.m.-10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, the Bulldogs work in the weight room. An abbreviated workout Saturday starts at 9 a.m. Two scrimmages are scheduled before the season opener at Trinity on Sept. 1. The Bulldogs will host Elkhart on Aug. 18 and travel to Woodville on Aug. 25 for their final preseason tune-up.
LIONS Lovelady Head Coach Jon Lowery welcomed 40 players to the first day of workouts.
"Forty is the number we were shooting for and that's right where we're sitting," Lowery said Monday morning.
"Two years in a row we graduated not only big, but very talented senior classes," said Lowery. "We've got a lot of holes to fill, but we've got a lot of young, eager kids out here and they're ready to step up to the challenge."
The Lions' two preseason outings are scheduled Aug. 18 at Trinity and Aug. 25 at home against Normangee.
Since the Lions have an open date for Week 1, they won't kick off the season until Sept. 8 when they travel to Anderson-Shiro.
Sandies Grapeland Head Coach Wayne Mahaffey had 33 players on the practice field Monday morning.
"We're just a few under the number we had the first day last year, and maybe we'll pick up a few in the next day or two," said Mahaffey.
The Sandies are working out from 8 a.m. until noon through Friday and will report Saturday morning at 8 o'clock for a short workout
Both of Grapeland's preseason scrimmages will be home appearances. Brook Hill School (Bullard) comes to town on Aug. 18 and then Trinity visits Sandie Stadium on Aug. 25. The Sandies host Kountze for their season opener Sept. 1.
Summer vacation officially ended Tuesday for high school volleyball players when they reported for their first preseason practice. During a fast-paced workout in the CHS gym, Crockett Lady Bulldogs Coach Karla Calhoun put her players through a number of drills designed to sharpen their skills. After just three practices, Coach Calhoun's squad will host a scrimmage match with Grapeland on Friday, Aug. 4 starting at 2 p.m. Crockett opens the season on the road against Latexo on Aug. 11.
Dea’Junique James records a season-high 38 points.Crockett Lady Bulldogs toppled undefeated district leader Coldspring 55-49 in a Monday night road game, putting them in a four-way for first place.
Coldspring, New Waverly, Anderson-Shiro and Crockett all sit atop the District 21-3A standings with just one loss.
"We pulled off a huge victory," said Lady Bulldogs Head Coach TaNesia Johnson. "We struggled in the first half. We were getting looks, but just couldn't get anything to fall. Then after the break we turned on the switch, got fired up, picked up the intensity, and played our style of ball!"
Coldspring had no answer for junior Dea'Junique James' 38-point performance, especially her 24 -point outburst in the fourth quarter. "Dea'Junique stepped up big offensively," said Coach Johnson, who noted this was a season high for James and equalled the career high she recorded last season against Elkhart.
Johnson added, "Mercedes (James) did a tremendous job on defense to stop their point guard."
Coldspring led 11-10 lead after the first quarter, which ended with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Dea'Junique James.
The Lady Trojans went up 21-12 midway through the second during a 10 to 2 run in which only Shelby Corry managed to get a shot to fall. A bucket by James and two by Jaida Lockhart finally got Crockett back within three points, only to have Coldspring go up 24-18 at halftime.
The Lady Bulldogs would get within four points several times in the third quarter, but found themselves trailing 34-27 heading into the fourth.
Crockett then dominated the final stanza 28-15 to seal the victory.
Rounding out Crockett's scoring were Lockhart with 6, Tynaisha McKnight and Mercedes James with 4 apiece, and Corry with 3. "Coldspring is a really good well-rounded, well-coached team. They made us earn everything, and I LOVE games like that!" added Johnson.
The Lady Dogs (4-1) got a much deserved rest Tuesday with a district bye as they prepare for a home game Friday against Anderson-Shiro to wrap up the first half of district.
The District 20-2A girls race got underway Friday night with Lovelady, Grapeland and Centerville posting opening night victories.
Lovelady easily defeated Groveton 50-22 on its home court, Grapeland handled Dallardsville Big Sandy 45-27 at home, and Centerville edged Latexo 58-43 on the road.
Two of the district's teams boast lofty state rankings. Centerville (17-5) is ranked No. 17 in the TABC state poll and tied for No. 25 in the TGCA rankings. Grapeland (21-5) is ranked No. 24 by the TABC.
Tuesday's schedule had Latexo at Lovelady, Grapeland at Groveton and Centerville at Big Sandy.
On Friday, Grapeland hosts Lovelady, Latexo hosts Big Sandy for its homecoming game, and Groveton faces Centerville.