ALVARADO — After finishing fourth in District 17-4A, the Alvarado Lady Indians open the 2019 postseason against No. 18 Lorena.
The Lady Indians and No. 18-ranked Lady Leopards are set for a 5:30 p.m. start Monday at West High School.
This year’s playoff berth marks the fourth consecutive season Alvarado has qualified for the postseason.
“That is awesome because we’re really young,” Alvarado head coach Jill Barkey said. “I’ve got four seniors and losing them is going to hurt but the rest of my team are mostly freshmen and sophomores. The fact that we’re making playoffs now with such a young team, I think next year will be even better. It sets a great expectation of what they know they can do.”
Barkey said the experience and leadership of Alvarado’s seniors — Alysia Torres, Taylor Armstrong, Ericka Venegas and Miranda Roberts — has been huge throughout the season.
“They’ve been great,” Barkey said. “The last couple years, I’ve really kind of given the seniors a lot of power on the court as far as leadership; they help with drills and they help with the practice plans, those type of things. It allows them to feel like they have some ownership on the team. And all four of them are leaders in all the sports they participate in. It’s been wonderful having their leadership since we have so many younger ones.”
Barkey said she likes how the younger roster and four experienced seniors have meshed despite having relatively no playing experience together before this season started.
“We’ve really had to work hard meshing the two groups of kids because I have the older girls who have been playing together and then these new young girls,” she said. “One of them is a freshman and the other two are sophomores, so them learning the speed of the game as quickly as they did speaks to their athleticism but it’s helped our team mesh so well together. I think that’s what has kept us going.”
No. 18 Lorena enters the bi-district contest with a 29-11 overall mark after going 10-0 in District 18-4A as the Lady Leopards certainly present a challenge to the Lady Indians (15-25) in the opening round of the playoffs.
“Obviously, they’re first in their district so we know going in that it’s going to be a tough game,” Barkey said. “We do have film on them and we’ve watched it together as a team and we’ve all watched it on our own as well. We’re going to be as prepared as we can be. Our playoff game is on a Monday so we’ll really hone in on certain things with our Saturday practice and finalize things we’re going to do to put our best foot forward against a first-place team.”
Lorena reached the third round of the postseason last season before falling to eventual state tournament qualifier Midlothian Heritage.
Going into Monday’s match, Barkey said they plan to keep the same mindset they’ve had since district play began — and that’s to limit unforced errors.
“One of the things we’ve been working on since our first game against [Waxahachie] Life — because we’re evenly matched teams — has been all about making fewer mistakes,” she said. “Limiting mistakes on things we can control, we’ve made that our first priority. So we want to try to cut down on silly errors.
"We’ve really been focusing on consistency; consistency in our passing, blocks and footwork. That’s been what most of district has been about, so that’s how we’ll approach this match against Lorena.”