LINDALE — The Lindale volleyball team was constantly reminded.
The football team: unbeaten in district.
The girls and boys basketball teams: unbeaten in district.
The softball and baseball teams: yep, unbeaten.
It turned out the volleyball squad was the only LHS team to suffer defeat in league action during the 2011-12 school year. The Lady Eagles finished 5-5 in District 14-3A, but still made the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season under coach Meghan Koonce.
When the UIL moved LHS back to Class 4A on realignment day last February, the athletics program found itself with a new and difficult challenge. But a funny thing has happened this fall — the Lady Eagles are only two matches away from finishing undefeated in District 16-4A.
“It was pointed out to us a lot last year,” Koonce said. “But my girls worked hard and we were in a tough district. It feels good to be winning right now and working towards that undefeated season that everybody else has had.”
On Friday, Lindale (24-9, 8-0) will try to clinch the district championship in a 4:30 p.m. showdown at home against John Tyler (24-13, 7-1). Should the Lady Eagles win, the only team between them and an undefeated league finish would be Nacogdoches (17-18, 1-6).
“We knew it was going to be a struggle going into 4A but we had high hopes,” Koonce said. “I knew we had some good, strong kids coming back and some girls coming up that were pretty good. I think, district wise, it’s about the same as last year because 3A is pretty tough and we had some tough games last year.”
Having been without standout Zhanelle Geathers during the first few weeks of this season, the Lady Eagles have stepped up their play and haven’t dropped a match in a month. And in district, the Lady Eagles topped John Tyler 3-1 in their first meeting and swept fellow playoff qualifier Whitehouse 3-1 and 3-2.
“When we got Zhanelle back and into the rotation things started picking up for us,” Koonce said. “Getting the chemistry going for us was a big thing. Getting the group together and getting to know each other and how they play has helped them play well on the court.”
On the season, Geathers has recorded 240 kills and 34 and has produced 100 kills and 34 blocks in district alone. The other statistical leaders during district include Sydney Tiiman (242 assists, 52 digs, 100 percent serving percentage), Savannah Cantrell (71 kills, 44 digs, 18 blocks) and Hannah Brown (61 kills, 49 digs).
In the Lady Eagles’ most recent match, Geathers produced 11 kills and three blocks in a three-game sweep of Jacksonville (25-9, 25-12, 25-15). The other top performers included Brown (six kills, six digs), Tiiman (18 assists, three digs), Cantrell (five kills, four digs), Makenna Allen (six kills, six digs, one block), Travicia Acy (five kills) and Madi Malone (eight assists, three digs).
“We really have great team chemistry on the team,” Koonce said. “There is not a selfish player on this team. We are in it to win it this year. It’s all about the win and we don’t care who gets the point. …I have some kids that are great leaders on the court.”