The Foster High School volleyball team has opened District 24-5A with back-to-back five-set matches. Both games ended with Lady Falcons’ wins, but Tuesday’s 3-2 victory (17-25, 25-21, 12-25, 25-21, 15-11) over Fulshear feels slightly different for the Lady Falcons than a close victory over Lamar Consolidated.
“I think we have played in a lot of close sets and close matches all year long, and because we’ve been in these situations often, it helped us take care of business.
“I think my girls played with a lot of energy and intensity tonight.”
Foster handed Fulshear its first district loss since 2018 after the Chargers swept both matches with Foster in 2020 en route to the District 24-5A crown.
The 2020 5A state finalists jumped out to an early lead on Foster in the opening set and even rallied to have an even more impressive victory in the third set.
But Foster wouldn’t go away. The Lady Falcons battled all night.
The prime example came in the second set: Fulshear junior Olivia Drayden hushed the Foster crowd after blocking a shot. The Chargers led 9-3 at that point, but Foster scored eight of the following 10 points to tie the set at 11.
Junior Koryn Johnson spiked kills to put Foster up 13-11 and tie things back up at 15.
Then, the most significant swings for Foster came at the service line in the second set. Senior Eliana Zepeda closed out the second set with back-to-back aces.
Fulshear quickly took the momentum back, leading 14-3 in the third set behind a kill from freshman Bailey Warren. Sisters Bailey and senior Brielle Warren dominated at the outside hitting positions for Fulshear all night.
“They were our go-to players tonight,” said Fulshear head coach Sydney Zimmerman. “We have a bunch of hitters that can get the job done, but we want to go to the Warrens because they obviously know how to put the ball down.”
Fulshear never let Foster get back into the third set. The Chargers only needed one more set victory to extend their district winning streak to 30 games.
“I think we did pretty well in the last tournament, and with the young kids, sometimes that turns into thinking ‘alright, we’ve got it,’” said Zimmerman. “We talked about our district not being the strongest, and we could come out and take it. Tonight was a good lesson.”
There was no big early lead for Fulshear in the fourth set, and the match was tied at 10, 12, 13, 14, and 16 points before Fulshear forced a timeout: Brielle Warren had set the score at 18-16 with a kill.
Foster responded and locked the match at 18 behind an ace from junior Chloe Howard. The Lady Falcons led 23-21 following a block from sophomore Jackie Onyechi.
The Lady Falcons forced a fifth and deciding set following the quick thinking of sophomore Mikaela Mendoza. She quickly tipped a pass over the net, catching the Fulshear defense off guard for the final point.
“We started our lineup in a different spot on the court, just to make it look different,” Hunter said about her team’s adjustments in teh final two sets. “And for whatever reason tonight, that worked.”
The two teams traded points to open the fifth set before a “play over” call killed the momentum. Senior Lilian Gerald appeared to tip the ball for a Foster point, but senior Ava Underwood attempted to stick a hand under it to keep it alive. The Lady Falcons started celebrating, and the Chargers wanted a decision. The play was quickly called mute, and the match played on at eight all.
Onyechi scored a kill, and the Lady Falcons never trailed again. Senior Kamryn Williams and Johnson helped finish off the win against Fulshear.
Senior libero Kalani Vasquez battled the big swings from Fulshear to lead the team with 17 digs, followed by Johnson with 14 and Zepeda with 13. Onyechi and Gerald combined for 11 blocks.
Johnson scored 12 kills and Williams had 11.
Foster (13-12, 2-0) will next travel to Terry for a District 24-5A match on Friday. The Lady Rangers collected their first district win Tuesday with a victory over Marshall.
“We’re hot and cold sometimes. We need to be persistent and be hot the whole time,” Foster senior Elizabeth Waldrop said.
“We have to understand that we’re going to be the team to beat; everyone is going to come ready to play us,” Hunter said. “We have to make sure we’re ready to take care of business if we want to stay in the spot that we are.”
Fulshear (18-12, 1-1) will host Kempner on Friday.