BURLESON — The Burleson Lady Elks enter the 2019 Class 5A bi-district playoffs as back-to-back district champions.
Burleson, ranked No. 9 in Class 5A by Texas Girls Coaches Association, finished the regular season with an overall record of 36-5. The Lady Elks went 13-1 in District 5-5A to capture their second consecutive district championship.
Burleson head coach D’Anna Newton said she’s proud of her team for reaching one of their top goals by winning a second straight district title, the Lady Elks’ first back-to-back district titles since 2011-13.
“We set goals every season and this has been on top of the goal list two years in a row,” Newton said. “It’s something we’ve talked about. To accomplish this means so much to myself and these girls. They have really worked so hard and are so deserving of the title. But the next goal on the list is to go further than we did last year so that’s what we are trying to achieve now.”
Burleson dropped a five-set match to Granbury on Oct. 1 but the Lady Elks bounced back their next meeting against the Lady Pirates with a 3-1 win on Oct. 25 to secure a share of the district title as both teams finished 13-1. Newton said she felt like the second match against Granbury was one of the Lady Elks’ better performances of the season.
“We talked about it, we wrote it down, and we believed it,” Newton said. “I was so proud of how we came out. We put ourselves in the same exact position as we did last year. This put a lot of pressure on us to really play to our potential. I felt like the first time we played them we were not all together but we took every game in district one at a time. When it was time to play them again we were physically and mentally prepared.”
By beating Granbury in four sets, the Lady Elks secured the No. 1 seed. The district rules state that tiebreakers go by head-to-head, then if the head-to-head is tied, the next tiebreaker is sets, in which Burleson held the edge.
Now Burleson faces Fort Worth Eastern Hills in the Class 5A Region I bi-district playoffs at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Cleburne High School. Despite being favored in the 1-vs.-4 matchup, Newton said they’re not overlooking anything.
“When you go into playoffs, anything can happen,” Newton said. “We are really focusing on fighting for every point, earning every point, and not having so many unforced errors.”
In the 2018 postseason, the Lady Elks swept Eastern Hills in bi-district but lost to Birdville, 3-0, in the area playoffs. Burleson’s goal this playoff run is to go at least a step further than last year.
“I feel good about this go around,” Newton said. “We are more experienced and know the expectations when playoffs start. We just have to perform every point and be more aggressive. It’s time for all 14 to step up and leave everything out on the court.
“My expectations are to keep doing what we’ve done. We haven’t changed much — we are still lifting, conditioning, and having intense practices. We’ve really stressed living in the moment, not looking ahead, and just going one set at a time. I know what this team is capable of doing we just have to go out and leave it all on the court.”