It's hard to remember just when and how it started, but Mildred's Lady Eagles added another chapter to their amazing turnaround Saturday afternoon, beating Palmer in a do-or-die play-in game to keep their season alive and advance to the Class 3A playoffs.
The Lady Eagles didn't just win, they swept Palmer 26-24, 25-23 and 25-20 in three tough, see-saw sets in the Corsicana Tiger Gym to earn their second playoff berth in a row.
They had to come back time and time again Saturday, but that's nothing new for the Lady Eagles, who turned their season upside down with a remarkable run through the second half of the district race, ripping off a 5-2 record and beating the very teams that had defeated them in the first round of play.
Their inspirational run culminated with a sweep over Blooming Grove Tuesday night, which lifted Mildred into a tie with Palmer for the final playoff spot, and the two teams met in Corsicana, where a large and loud Mildred crowd showed up Saturday and celebrated with the girls, who refused to lose.
They trailed by three points late in the first set, but just kept coming at Palmer and pulled away 26-24. Palmer took leads in the second and third sets, but the Lady Eagles found a way to come back all afternoon.
Every player on the team had her moments Saturday. Lilly Hanna and Amy Adamson led the way at the net with some momentum changing kills, including some statement makers in the second and third sets. Hanna finished with nine kills and Adamson, a freshman, nailed eight. Hanna, the senior leader of the team, also had some key runs at the service line and finished with three aces.
Sophomore Kenli Dalton had a huge game, handing out 11 assists to go along with four aces, and Abby Huitt, who has been the glue in the middle during her entire career at Mildred, set the Lady Eagles up all afternoon and finished with 13 assists.
Libero Nikki Turner led the defense 18 digs, and Landry Fleming, who had a solid all-around game, was right there with 14 digs. Bailey Burks came through with a big game and seven digs.
"This team has a battled back on multiple occasions this season and that came into play again Saturday when they were down by three late in the first set," said Mildred coach Lawayne Siegert, who took over the program last year and has taken volleyball to a new level at Mildred. "They didn't panic. They simply stepped up their game and fought."
Mildred moves on to the postseason and faces the No. 3-ranked team in the state in the 3A bi-district round at 6:30 Tuesday night at Blooming Grove.
Siegert talked about how proud he was of his kids and the way they battled all year.
"I'm really proud of all of them," he said. "This is a resilient group of athletes who work together."