When the Dripping Springs Tigers needed a momentum boost Nov. 2, they held a block party to get in the groove.
An imposing presence at the net, along with critical points scored at key junctures, pushed Dripping Springs to a 25-17, 25-22, 25-16 area round playoff win over the Victoria West Warriors at Gonzales High.
The Tigers leaned heavily on senior Graceyn Tippens who supplied 14 of the team’s 38 total kills in the match.
Tippens said the Tigers worked on maintaining as much energy as possible and tried to play at a consistently high level.
“Sometimes we struggle with energy. That was a change in our game,” Tippens said. “From the start during warmups, we had a ton of energy and we wanted to absolutely kill it. We wanted to have confidence and not be too nervous.”
However, a handful of aggressive mistakes kept Dripping Springs from racing off with the first set. Strong play from Victoria West kept the match close at 13-10 in the initial frame.
Dripping Springs responded by closing the set 12-7, anchored by the play from Tippens and Madison Certain, who had seven kills in the match.
Michael Kane, Dripping Springs head volleyball coach, said he was okay with the early aggressive mistakes, as he felt the physical play of his front row players could help them overcome a deficit.
“I’m okay with falling behind a little bit so that we can recover from it. And we did,” Kane said. “We withstood that for the first three points. We stayed in system and went from there.”
The Tigers employed that strategy in the second set when Victoria West rallied from an early hole to take a 16-13 lead. Aiding the Warriors were a handful of Tiger passing and attacking errors.
But three straight points scored off of blocks by the Tiger front line, followed by an ace from Maddie Berkholz, gave the Tigers a 17-16 advantage and the momentum.
Dripping Springs took that momentum into the third set and imposed its will to end the match.
Kane said the Tigers “outphysicaled” the Warriors to close the second set. He felt the Dripping Springs front line, which secured six blocks total in the match, created problems for Victoria West.
Tippens said the Tigers’ middle blockers were able to close on Victoria West attackers and were able to halt cross court kill attempts.
“It was a momentum changer. We had lost a little energy there,” Tippens said. “That gave us the energy to pull through and finish the set.”
As the Tigers march on in the playoffs, Kane said the expectations of a deep run continue to take root.
However, he also felt the Tigers are somewhat under the radar, despite winning six straight district titles.
It stems from a competitive Region IV, which harbors perennial powerhouses such as Tuloso-Midway.
Playing with a heightened intensity is what Tippens believes could spur the Tigers forward.
“We’re going to play with the same intensity and confidence and we’ll keep going, no matter what,” Tippens said. “We’ll definitely go for everything and not give up.”