John Tyler head coach Stephanie March-Smith ditched the fundamental speech and pitched the mental element as the Lady Lions prepared to open up play in the Class 4A state volleyball playoffs.
JT takes on Mansfield Legacy in a bi-district match tonight at Terrell Athletic Complex. The JT-Legacy contest, set for an 8 p.m. start, follows Robert E. Lee’s bi-district match.
The Lady Lions (25-14) finished second in District 16-4A with an 8-2 record. JT (25-14). Mansfield Legacy (13-13) placed third in 15-4A with a 9-4 record. JT played in the Mansfield ISD tournament, but missed meeting Legacy.
“They are going to be a strong team,” March-Smith said. “We know what they look like. We just need to play. We have to go in mentally prepared to play ball. It’s a mental game.”
The Lady Lions look to a number of seniors for leadership. The tandem of Erica Franklin and Amicia Williams teamed up for 37 kills in JT’s five-game win over Whitehouse to end the regular season. Quaneshia Johnson passed for 34 assists, Dakia Allen paced JT with 23 assists and Breanna Choice blocked three balls.
Senior Jesslan Carroll figures to play a key role tonight, as well as junior middle blocker Kashanti Flowers and sophomore hitter Donishia Rouege.
The winner between JT and Legacy advances to the area round later in the week to meet either Lucas Lovejoy or Mount Pleasant. Lovejoy won the 3A championship last year.
“We just have to minimize our errors and be mentally tough,” March-Smith said.
“There are no what-ifs. There’s no excuses. It’s just being ready to play.”