54° F Sunday, April 23, 2017

In a true back-and-forth affair, Westlake wound up on the wrong end of the scoreboard in an area round loss to A&M Consolidated Friday.
The Chaparrals squeezed by the Tigers for a win in Game 1 and again in Game 3, but the pivotal Game 5 went to A&M Consolidated in a 23-25, 25-16, 22-25, 25-15, 15-12 win for the Tigers.
After starting the season 8-15, Westlake went on to a 16-5 record the rest of the way, including a perfect 12-0 run through District 15-5A.
With their sights set on getting to the big show and making the state tournament, it was a tough way to go out for the Chaps, who fought until the very end.
“In my mind, anybody we played from now on out, we could beat; we just had to be good the whole time,” Westlake volleyball coach Al Bennett said. “When we’re on, we can play with anyone in the state. But our inconsistency, when it dipped, it dipped. It’s not like we did things incorrectly, but you get some things to happen that go your way – that first ball kill or a block – something that changes momentum. Then the outcome can be very different. I have no complaints. Our kids played very hard.”
As good as Westlake played in some stretches, the team wasn’t able to build rallies and points through its blocking as the Chaps have done in the past. In addition to that, the team had just one ace in the five-game match.
After playing in just two five-game matches all season long – going five games against NB Canyon (loss), and Lake Travis (win), the Chaps had back-to-back outings of the extended variety in their two playoff matches.
“One area didn’t do as well in it was blocking, and we didn’t serve the ball particularly well,” Bennett said. “It really takes its toll on you emotionally, physically. But everyone has to overcome some of those things. We only went five twice all year, then twice in the playoffs. If we had continued, we probably would have continued with that same kind of deal.”
Senior Grace Weghorst had another phenomenal outing, notching 24 kills and 10 digs, while fellow senior Cristie Ingram had 22 digs.
“Grace had another stellar night; she played extremely well,” Bennett said. “All the burdens for a young team fell on Cristie and Grace early on, and they tried to do too much. They literally tried to carry the team early on. But eventually, it worked itself out, and we saw them play extremely well, and they played some of their best volleyball of their careers the last two matches.”
Senior Kinsey Leavitt stepped into a bigger role as setter with Madison Borowski out with injury and didn’t miss a beat, leading the team with 30 assists. Molly Smith added 28 assists for the Chaps.
“Kinsey proved herself last year coming in crucial situations,” Bennett said. “This year, she’s shown she was willing to do whatever and was ready when the playoffs began. She does an excellent job; we don’t miss a beat. That was the best she’s set all season these last two matches.”
The two five-game matches to close the season was, and wasn’t, a snapshot of how the Chaparrals’ season went. On one hand, the team had streaks go both ways, but on the other hand, Westlake would not have made it to five games with either team had they not made particular progress during the season.
“It’s not a microcosm of the season, but in the other sense, it is indicative of how we had big swings throughout our season where we would be really good and where we just went the other way,” Bennett said. “We had a growth and maturity that came with our team, and we did a better job handling pressure. Offensively, we matured and came along a whole bunch. Those were big steps we had to take. We had a huge amount of progress throughout the year.”
Senior Katie Daffer had 11 kills and two blocks while senior Anna-Christine Parrish wound up with three blocks in a match where Westlake didn’t accumulate as many as normal.
Bennett had a lot of praise for this year’s veterans, and the Chaps will graduate eight seniors, including Taylor Meister, Michelle Schuler and Kim Anderson.
“They were a special group, a great group of seniors that all fulfilled different roles,” he said. “It wasn’t about what the wins and losses were; it was about how we grouped and the journey to become a great team. We went through that process and maximized potential that we had. A lot of teams don’t even get through that process. They bail on it and don’t realize the potential they have.”
Meagan Mellenbruch had 13 digs and Corinne Grandcolas added 15 kills.

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