The crosstown rivalry

Lady Tigers face their rivals after loss last season


Braylen Garren

File Photo

Story by Kailyn Williams, Sports Editor

The Lady Tigers will face off in a double-header Tuesday, Aug 23, 2022, against Carthage and Pleasant Grove. 

Last year’s game against Pleasant Grove was a nail biter. The game went to the fifth set and came down to the last few points. Ultimately, the Hawks took the win 15-12, 3-2.

This lit a fire under the Lady Tigers. 

Going into the big game against Pleasant Grove, the Lady Tigers have discussed both strengths and weaknesses in the Lady Hawks, who also suffered a big cut with their senior class graduating.

“The team has been discussing their weaknesses, but also some of their strong points going into the game,” senior captain Bella Cherry said. “We’ve talked about how we will [execute] smart plays to keep a straight game plan.”

With only two games under her belt this season and 29 kills, Cherry is a crucial member of the team, and she carries a lot of responsibility for the Lady Tigers.

“I’ve been doing a lot to prepare myself for this game,” Cherry said. “Mainly I’ve focused on hitting my spots to get around PG’s tough defense.”

With last year’s loss on the back burner, the Tigers are focused on a few things to fix up going into Tuesday. 

“Last year we struggled a little in all areas of the game,” junior Cy Hopkins said. “Our block was inconsistent and they played us well defensively.”

Texas plans to focus on playing disciplined, and try to out rally the Hawks. If they can win the long rallies, they’ll be in a good position. 

The name of Pleasant Grove’s game is discipline. They have an experienced defense that has to compensate for a weaker offense. 

“PG plays very disciplined,” Hopkins said. “We have stepped up our game, and are [prepared] to come out with a fight.”

Going into this match, Hopkins is one of two Tiger volleyball players with triple-digit kills at 103.

Junior Mally Lumpkin also plays a big role for the Tigers, leading with 149 kills and helping out defensively with 106 digs and 7 blocks. 

“It’s going to be harder playing against girls I’ve known my whole life, that plays into their solid defensive game,” Lumpkin said. “They read me well because they already know the shots I normally tend to hit.”

With them polishing up their game, they’ve brought in multiple underclassmen to replace the five seniors that they lost this past season. 

The Lady Tigers are relying on some young players to step up going into such a big rivalry game.

However, such a big rivalry brings a lot of pressure, especially for freshman and underclassmen in general.

“I’m a little bit nervous going into the Pleasant Grove game,” freshman Kyleigh Perkins said. “I know how much it matters to my team, I’m just going to step up and play how I know I can play.” 

Battling through nerves, from the start of the season, she has consistently been a starting six-rotation player for the Tigers. Perkins has 53 kills on the season for Texas, a large number for a first year varsity athlete in pre-season. 

Though their offense will have to play a strong game, defense will play a large factor in this game as well. 

With no defense, there’s no offense. 

“I feel we [have relied] heavily on our offense,” assistant coach Robin Holland said. “When you play a good defensive team, it becomes mentally frustrating when they dig up everything. Our defense has to find ways to get the ball up and be scrappy.

Because the game has so much hype around it, it’s easy to get caught up in the nerves, but the Tigers need to treat it like any other game. 

“[This game] means more because we are playing girls we’ve grown up with,” Lumpkin said. “At the end of day, it’s only a pre-season game, so we need to go into it just like any other pre-season game.”

The Tigers have a lot to gain from this game, win or lose. Either way the game goes, they will learn a lot, whether it be strengths or weaknesses. Hopefully it can be a momentum builder.

“I hope we come out with a win and gain some momentum,” Cherry said. “We want to go into the season feeling confident and ready to win.”

The Tigers will face their rival at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug 23, 2022.