JOSHUA — The Joshua Lady Owls are back in the playoffs for a second straight season and will meet Forney in a Class 5A Region II bi-district match.
Under the direction of second-year head coach Jordan Whitworth, Joshua has made back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since 2012-13.
Joshua boasts a 26-16 overall record after going 8-4 in District 14-5A play to finish third behind Red Oak and Midlothian, while the Lady Rabbits went 28-9 in the regular season and 10-2 in District 13-5A.
“Making back-to-back playoff [appearances] is exciting and means the program is headed in the right direction,” Whitworth said. “We still have a ways to go until the program is where I want it to be, but I am pleased with the growth they have shown in the year and one and a half years I have been here.”
Joshua and Forney are scheduled for a 7 p.m. first serve Tuesday from Duncanville High School in a rematch of last year’s bi-district battle that saw the Lady Owls beat the Lady Rabbits, 3-1 (25-17, 25-23, 17-25 and 25-20).
Whitworth said they’re not as much concerned about what Forney can do as the Lady Owls try to focus on their own play, especially with a younger team than last year’s Joshua squad that beat Forney.
“The challenge we have faced all year is almost my whole team is new to varsity,” she said. “New to the speed of the game and new when facing adversity. So it is not what challenges Forney presents, it is what challenges we as a team allow to get in the way.
“We need to be focused and not let outside distractions get the best of us. We need to make sure that we stick to what we practice. Leadership, accountability, and encouragement will allow us to be successful Tuesday.”
A year ago, Joshua had its deepest playoff run in program history as Whitworth, a former Lady Owl player herself, helped guide Joshua to the third round of the postseason in her first year as a head coach. Despite a less experienced team this season, Whitworth believes this group can go a step farther than last year’s third-round appearance.
“We definitely have the talent to go further than last year,” she said. “It’s going to take dedication, accountability, and leadership. Those three characteristics can make or break a team. As a team, we have to stay focused on what is important and what will make us successful.”
Helping lead the Lady Owls this season were assistant coaches Megan Atkinson and Will Walker, who helped guide the team when Whitworth gave birth earlier this season. Whitworth said she missed only one match, and then helped coach the next several matches from a seat off to the side of the court.