Navarro volleyball

Navarro's Kelly Helms smashes one of her 11 kills in the Lady Panthers blowout win over Poteet on Tuesday night, Oct. 8 2019.

The game itself was almost an afterthought for the night.

Yes, the Navarro Lady Panthers (29-7 overall, 5-1 District 30-4A) continued their stellar play this season, handling Poteet easily in a match that lasted just over an hour, 25-6, 25-10, 25-6.

But the real winner on Tuesday night was the fight against breast cancer, as the Lady Panthers, Poteet, and fans participated in the “Dig Pink” night to raise money for the cause.

About $1,800 was raised through donations and sales of T-shirts and more during the game.

“I’m really excited that they joined in with us for ‘Dig Pink’, so with both programs we could donate the most we could donate,’” head coach Nicole Blakeman said after the game. 

“Our goal was to raise $2,000 and we’re close to that now. We’re going to send out a link for donations online.”

The game had special meaning for those at Navarro, as coach Jackie Baker, who has been at the school for about 25 years, is a breast cancer survivor.

The Lady Panthers never let Poteet in the match, jumping out to huge leads in each of the three sets.

The first set saw Navarro go up 12-0 before Poteet was able to get a point on the board.

Blakeman took the opportunity in the blowout to play different lineups and the team worked on efficiency as a goal for the match.

“We have to focus on every opponent, every time,” Blakeman said. “You can never underestimate an opponent, so you have to prepare for every game.

“We had goals at the beginning of the game, hitting percentages, passing percentages and things like that. Besides just the wins or losses, we had goals that we set before the game.”

Balkeman worked in several players that in tighter matches would usually not be on the floor.

“Matches like this give us an opportunity to see different lineups,” Blakeman said. “So when it comes to a point where they have to play, they have already gotten some playing time.”

Kaitlin Menchaca, Terryn Wallace and Kyndal Tate all came off the bench to rotate in throughout the match. Tate made the most of her time with four kills on the night.

“A lot of times you’ll have the eight or nine players that rotate in, and then you’ll have three or four that don’t get much playing time,” Blakeman said. “But this year with injuries and illnesses, everybody has gotten a chance to be on the floor.

“It’s good for us in that if we need them, they have experience on the floor. We need to make sure we all gel as we go into the second round and into the playoffs.”

Regular starters Kelly Helms and Madison McCaig led the way offensively with nine and seven kills respectively, while Sam Smith contributed with seven aces.

Defensively, libero Carolyn Burch accounted for 11 digs, while Helms, Nelly Brumley and Ashley Gosch chipped in with seven, six and six digs each. 

Blakeman was happy with the energy from the team in a match that they were obviously the much better team.

“I think they did a good job in keeping the level of play up through the whole match,” she said. “We’ve actually done that two matches in a row now.”

The Lady Panthers take on some tougher competition next, as they travel to Pleasanton (third in the district) on Friday night.

“We’ve got to be ready and focused to take care of business on Friday,” Blakeman said.

Other scores

Seguin (8-3 District 26-5A, 18-18 overall) continued its winning streak with a tough four-set win over Veterans Memorial. The teams were separated by just two points in the first three sets, 25-23, 27-25 and 28-30, before the Lady Mats took the fourth, 25-22, for the win.

Lifegate (11-4) fell in five sets to 4A Cornerstone JV, 22-25, 25-17, 20-25, 25-16 and 6-15.

Marion (2-2 District 26-3A) won in five sets over Comfort, 25-23, 27-25, 16-25, 22-25 and 17-15.

Kevin Duke is the sports editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at sports@seguingazette.com .

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