Mustangs make early waves in district

Mitchell takes care of nemesis Sickles in four games, avenging 2005's district semifinal loss.

Published September 1, 2006

TRINITY - In a possible prelude to the Class 6A, District 7 title game, Mitchell overcame an extremely tenacious Sickles squad, defeating the Gryphons 23-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-14 on Thursday.

The Mustangs' win was the first step in redemption following three losses to Sickles last season, including a season-ending loss in the district semifinals.

"We knew we were in it after the first game," Mustangs coach Keith Faulk said. "I said to them, "we have to find another notch.' And they found it. Every single one of my girls raised it to another level."

Sickles (2-3, 1-2 in 6A-7) jumped to an early 4-2 lead in the first game on the strength of its defense, which forced Mitchell (5-0, 3-0) into numerous hitting errors. But the Mustangs battled back, tying the game at 5-all, then 8-all and 12-all.

Mitchell pulled ahead 18-13 before the Gryphons, on the serving strength of junior outside hitter/defensive specialist Janine Ray, made a run to tie it at 21. Following a side out, a hitting error by the Mustangs gave the game to Sickles.

The second game was more of the same, only this time, more of the balls went Mitchell's way. Behind left-side hitter Heather Zappacosta, who led the Mustangs with nine kills and 23 digs, the reigning co-Sunshine Athletic Conference champions found that "notch." And the Mustangs tied it at one game each.

In the third and fourth games, with the help from fellow left-side hitter Layne Spencer (five kills, 19 digs) and middle blocker Ashley Stager (19 digs), the Mustangs cruised to victory.

"They really rose to the occasion," Faulk said. "They put it all on the line tonight, and it was great to see."