Vandegrift turned on the jets Tuesday night to beat last year’s state finalist Cedar Park in straight sets.
The Lady Vipers rallied from down as many as five points in the final set to beat the Lady Timberwolves 3-0 (25-12, 25-19, 26-24). It was the third win of the season for Vandegrift against its LISD rival Cedar Park.
“The focus is one point a time, but I knew if we were able to get a couple points in a row to get back to 17-all (in the third set), we would have a new game,” Vandegrift head coach Melissa Southall said. “We’ve got to keep pushing to get a string of points and not just one.”
Vandegrift ranked No. 20 in the latest TGCA poll released Monday, beat Cedar Park 2-1 in one of the first tournaments of the season on Aug. 11 and then again topped the Lady Timberwolves 2-0 at the NISD Classic on Aug. 18.
Cedar Park, however, got better as each set went along on Tuesday. A mid-set lull put the Lady Timberwolves behind in the first set. They didn’t allow the points gap to get bigger than four in the second set before building a lead in the final set.
“In the first set, we lost a middle and it took awhile to realize we were going to fight for points and we going to be all right,” Cedar Park head coach Rachel Altman said. “The girls got better and I was proud of the way they finished.”
The teams traded points to begin the match, but Vandegrift went on a little run to push the lead to 15-7. Cedar Park called a timeout to stop the surge, but the run continued and the Lady Vipers pushed their lead to 17-7.
The Lady Timberwolves again kept things close in set two and tied it at eight points apiece. This time it was Vandegrift which called a timeout to end momentum before winning the final three points to take the set.
Cedar Park opened the third set with a serve that nailed Taylor Nunez in the back of the head. She and the rest of the team laughed at her surprised reaction and continued without a problem.
A short run by the Lady Timberwolves extended their lead to 14-10 and forced Vandegrift to call time. The Lady Vipers clawed their way back and took their first lead of the set at 19-18 and the teams were tied for the last three points of the game before Vandegrift won two straight points.
“We’ve been working on not get complacent in practice and we’re going to get better during the season,” Southall said. “That’s why we play tough teams like Cedar Park because they're going to challenge us physically and mentally through the end.”
Vandegrift has two more matches before district play begins next Friday night. The Lady Vipers travel to face Cedar Ridge Friday at 6:30 p.m. and then go to Austin Bowie for a 6:30 p.m. matchup next Tuesday.
Cedar Park already began district play with a 3-2 win over Hutto on Aug. 22. The Lady Timberwolves continue district play when they travel to face Elgin on Friday and host Bastrop Cedar Creek next Tuesday night.
“These girls are hopefully starting to realize that when they’re mentally tough, they’re as good as any team they want to be,” Altman said. “Right now there’s a lot of talent and we’ve just got to put it all together.