FROST — They've got some pretty big shoes to fill at Frost
At least, metaphorically.
But the 2019 Lady Polar Bears have some pretty big feet (metaphorically).
But it's not size of the shoe or the feet that counts. It's the size of the heart, and the Frost kids know all about heart and playing with passion.
Coach Elaine Woods has been teaching both for years, and she smiles when she talks about her team this year, because these kids have it all.
The Lady Bears are the last volleyball team standing in the Golden Circle and face Rosebud-Lott Thursday night in Axtell in the Area Round of the Class 2A playoffs. They have been marching toward the postseason all year and arrived Monday with a six-game winning streak after winning 14 of the last 15 matches.
They swept past Waco Rapaport in the bi-district round Monday and are eager for the chance to move on in the playoffs, where they hope to replicate what the Frost teams did years ago when the Jae Moore-Hilllaree Schwartz led Lady Polar Bears, reached the Region III Tournament and lost in the region semifinals in 2015. That was the best Frost team in history.
The seniors on this year's team were kids looking up to those Frost teams.
Now they want to make their own history.
“We want to be the Hillarees and Jaes now,” said senior Sydney Woods, who is one of this year's leaders along with Kinsley Fuller. “We want to take that next step.”
Those two seniors have carved out their own chapter, leading Frost on the volleyball court.
This year's team has won 23 games, including 14 in the district and entered the playoffs as a No. 1 seed. They not only have won 14 of their last 15, but they have swept 13 of those matches, and haven't lost a set since beating Avalon 3-1 on September 20.
The Lady Polar Bears had more kills at the halfway point of this season than they had all last year. They have simply dominated opponents at the net, where Fuller has slammed home 269 kills this year and Kyra Cerda, a sophomore, has nailed 192 kills. Lexi Banks, a talented freshman who gets better every day, has 114 kills and Woods, who spends most of her time and efforts setting up shots, has 107 kills.
The Lady Bears have 782 kills as a team.
And it is all about the team.
“They have been playing together since they were in fifth grade, playing for the Little Diggers,” said coach Woods, who has sent her last nine teams to the playoffs.
“We are so close and have such a strong bond,” Fuller said. “And we work really hard and give it 110 percent all the time — and we work together.”
That's part of the secret at Frost, where everyone has made big contributions this season.
“I saw a difference in this team early in the season,” coach Woods said. “If we got down a point or two no one panicked and no one got down. We didn't shut down, we came together. They play hard and they play for each other. If we lose a point we don't get down.”
Momentum is the biggest player on a volleyball court, and the Frost kids know it and have pushed all year to grab it and regain it after opponents score.
“They have that mindset,” coach Woods said. “And they play so well together. They read each other so well. They make each other better.”
Coach Woods' daughter, Sydney, is in the middle of that river, hustling all over the court and setting up shots. She has been a two-time all-state setter, and is having a career season, setting up a remarkable 649 assists this year.
Fuller and Woods lead the way on and off the court, and at the service line, where Fuller has a 94 percent service average with 117 aces, and Woods is serving 93 percent with 102 aces. Cerda is at 92 percent with 70 aces and sophomore Emily De La Hoya is serving 86 percent with 33 aces.
“This is the first year I've had five good athletes and five good hitters,” coach Woods said. “We had 511 kills and 442 assists and 257 aces at the halfway point of the season. It's been a great season.''
The team that consists of Fuller, Woods, Cerda, Banks, De La Hoya, Madeline Lee, a freshman, Jaden Jenkins, a junior, Macey Cooper, a freshman, and Maddy Whittey, has had a blast enjoying the ride this season.
“It has been a lot of fun,” Fuller said. “We've come a long way this year.”
Sydney Woods said: “I think we have won because we are resilient and we play as one. If one of us moves, everyone moves. We're very synchronized, and play together and play as a team. We're six players on the court playing as one. We're one team.”
The 2019 Frost Lady Bears have arrived together.
“We've definitely grown as a team over the past four years,” Sydney Woods said. “This team has come together.”