Jackson block vs. Barbers Hill

Manvel's Amari Jackson (1), who later delivered the match point kill in Tuesday's regional volleyball quarterfinal in Houston, stuffs a Barbers Hill shot at the net.

(Photo by Michael Edmonds)

HOUSTON - Once Manvel got Barbers Hill on the playoff ropes the third time around, the Lady Mavericks finally applied the knockout blow.

Manvel rode behind Devyn Lewis’ 26 kills and a strong blocking performance at the net by the trio of Amari Jackson, Kenedy Massie and Mary Kate-Preston to capture a 25-21, 24-26, 25-18 and 25-22 victory in the Class 5A Regional Volleyball Quarterfinals, Tuesday at Delmar Field House.

Lewis added 13 digs to her match-high 26 kills for a double double, while Preston delivered 12 kills and three blocks. Massie dished out 43 assists and three blocks and Bea Angeles added 29 digs.

The win advances the Lady Mavs (35-11), who also picked up their 19th straight victory, into the regional tournament for the third time in school history. Susan Kennedy’s squad will meet Plugerville Henrickson in the regional semifinals, Friday back at Delmar at 7 p.m., with the winner facing either College Station or Fulshear in the regional finals, Saturday at Delmar at 1 p.m.

While the Lady Eagles entered the contest with an impressive 39-4 mark, the Lady Mavs appeared unfazed throughout, probably thanks to a August victory over Barbers Hill at the Dickinson Tournament. Manvel won the best-of-three match to claim the tourney title.

“I think it’s fortunate that’s we played them earlier in the year,” Kennedy said following the match. “We had film to watch on them and we let the kids watch the film last night and get a little scouting report on their hitters’ tendencies and where we do they hit on the court.

“Breaking that down, being in our sytstem and distributing a ball a lot helped out at lot. We knew from watching them with Foster that they were capable of coming back. Knowing we couldn’t lose focus was a big key.”

Manvel, who had dropped a pair of tough five set postseason decisions to Barbers Hill in 2017 and 2018, took charge in the third set with the match tied at a game apiece. With the Lady Mavs trailing 15-12, kills by Lewis, Preston and Brooke Wight (five kills) sparked an 8-0 run. Lewis later followed with a kill and a service winner to make it 23-18 with Jackson and Lyric Jordan (seven kills) then landing floor blows to give the Lady Mavs the two sets to one lead.

The Lady Mavs carried that momentum into the fourth, jumping out to a 14-7 lead  on a Lady Eagles’ miscue and maintaining a solid edge later on Jackson’s kill to put Manvel in match point territory at 24-18. While Barbers Hill fended off the initial four match point chances, Jackson (five kills) drilled a baseline winner to close it out.

Despite committing 14 service errors, the Lady Mavs managed to keep Barbers Hill off balance from the line in the match’s early stages with the Lady Eagles committing hitting errors off both Angeles and Morgan Sellers’ services.

After trailing 2-1 on Aemilie’s Brosssard’s ace, the Manvel girls led the rest of the way in the opening set and Preston stuffed Avery Wilks at the net at game point. The Lady Eagles fought back to even things in the second set, but not without having to first survive broken game points by Lewis’ kill and Preston’s solo block.

However, Alexa Gayden’s spike gave Barbers Hill the upper hand at 25-24 and Broussard’s kill tied the match at a game apiece.

The teams then battled to 11 stalemates in the third until the Lady Eagles opened up a 15-12 lead. However, kills by Lewis and Preston were sandwiched between a Lady Eagles’ hitting miscue to ignite the match-changing 8-0 run for Manvel.

“We definitely missed a lot of serves and had some unforced errors,” Kennedy said. “But the girls kept their energy and composure.”

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