Cayuga practicing at crack of dawn for state

Published on Wednesday, 14 November 2012 00:11 - Written by Shane Stark

Having been eliminated in the state semifinals the past two seasons, the Cayuga volleyball team wants to avoid repeating history. Headed back to the big stage this week, the Lady Wildcats changed their approach.

That meant moving their practices to the bright-and-early portion of the day.

“Because they wanted to be prepared for a morning game,” Cayuga coach Magen Humphreys said. “About two weeks ago they asked that if we made it back to state, could we practice at 6 a.m. … It’s a good idea because we are used to playing in the morning.”

At 11 a.m. Friday, Cayuga (33-9) is scheduled to meet Round Top-Carmine (40-3) in the Class 1A semifinals at Garland’s Curtis Curwell Center. The winner will meet either Jewett Leon (40-4) or Wink (41-5) for the championship at 9 a.m. Saturday.

For Cayuga, a berth in the title match would mark the most successful season in program history, because the Lady Wildcats hadn’t reached state before the current run. According to Humphreys, the squad will do everything possible to make sure that dream becomes reality.

“I expect a different turnout from last year,” said Humphreys, a first-year head volleyball coach who assisted Stephen Drinkard the past two seasons. “I expect them to compete. Our whole game plan is to serve really well; we are hoping for that. We have been practicing well and the girls are ready to play. They are confident.”

Cayuga advanced to state with a five-game victory against Blum in the regional final, the squad’s first non-sweep of the playoffs. The Lady Wildcats rallied from two games down to prevail in dramatic fashion, winning 18-25, 24-26, 25-21, 25-16, 15-12.

“We’ve been playing really well,” Humphreys said. “Coming out of district we’ve been sweeping people. In the regional final, that was the first time we played a five-set match and won. It showed a lot of character after a 0-2 start.”

Much of Cayuga’s success can be attributed to junior Danielle Anderson and senior Shawnta Knox, who provide plenty of firepower to the lineup. During the regular season, Anderson led the squad with 437 kills and 44 blocks, while Knox provided 321 kills.

Junior Cory McCulloch finished the regular season with 354 digs to lead the team, while sophomore Presley Luce is the setter and provided 171 assists.

The roster also includes seniors Reanna Richardson, Molly Griffey and Meagan Poland; sophomores Maci Poland and Mary Davis; and freshmen Kathleen Lackey and Jana Walthall.

Notes: White Oak (40-5) is set to make its fourth consecutive appearance at state and seventh in program history. The 2010 state champion meets Schulenburg (34-9) in the 2A semifinals at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Curtis Culwell Center. The winner will advance to face either Brock (43-3) or Holliday (35-6) for the title at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.