All Saints fought hard to earn a home playoff match, which they hosted Tuesday at Brookshire Gym.
The Lady Trojans, with their rowdy student body behind them, made sure their efforts paid off, pulling out a 3-2 victory over Midland Christian in their TAPPS 4A area playoff.
All Saints won 24-26, 25-18, 25-20, 18-25, 15-10 behind strong efforts from all six starters: Katrina Kastmo, Kaitlyn Huskey, Lanna Johnson, Maddie Smith, Madeline Wynne and Jasmine Owens.
“It shows a lot of courage for them; it shows a lot of maturity,” All Saints coach Cristy O’Bannon said. “When times got really tough they stepped up in that fifth set and they wanted it and they took advantage of the crowd — yet another great crowd for us — and they just kind of went with it.”
The Lady Trojans (23-10) advanced to the regional round where they’ll play Houston Second Baptist at 4 p.m. Friday from Austin Concordia University. The Mustangs ended their season 13-12.
All Saints earned its first postseason win at the 4A level after reaching the 3A state final three straight years from 2006-08.
“That’s big; I think it puts our name back out there,” O’Bannon said. “I think it just kind of solidifies not only what our volleyball program can do in 4A but our other athletic department programs can do at this level as well.”
Kastmo led the way with 14 kills, 10 digs and nine blocks for the Lady Trojans. Johnson supplied 20 digs and 10 kills, Smith added 34 assists and Huskey chipped in nine kills, including a perfect strike in the fifth set. Owens had four blocks and Wynne had five kills and three blocks.
After a back-and-forth start, Johnson broke an 8-8 tie in Game 5 with a hit that landed just inside the line. All Saints never trailed again, taking advantage of spikes from Wynne, Johnson, Huskey, the last of which found the left corner of the court. A block from Kastmo ended the game and the match.
“When times got tough, we had a few that stepped up in the fifth set and that really made a difference,” O’Bannon said.
The Lady Trojans started slow despite a raucous crowd that included much of the All Saints student body from middle school to high school. O’Bannon thought her players pressured themselves too much to impress the crowd early on.
“It seemed like we were a little off-sync today as a team and as a whole and for them to be able to pull it together just enough to pull out a five-game victory is just unbelievable,” she said.
All Saints came right back with an easy win in Game 2, leading by as many as nine.
“They didn’t find the cohesion in that first set that we needed and dropping it kind of lit a fire under us,” O’Bannon said. “So the start of the second set we knew we weren’t going to drop it.”
The Lady Trojans rallied from down 17-12 to capture Game 3, but the Mustangs battled back in Game 4 behind seven kills from Hallie Oestmann, who finished with 12 kills.
Morgan Ashton, who had 16 assists for Midland Christian, tied Game 5 at 8 with her sixth kill before All Saints took over and closed out the match.
“They really wanted it and it showed in that fifth set where the other four I think we played well in spurts but we also had spurts where we just didn’t play well,” O’Bannon said. “They overcame a lot of that.
“That fifth set was just basically all guts — guts and glory right there.”