Desiray Rodriguez (left) and Megan Wilke (right) combine for a block in the first set of Seguin's win over Smithson Valley at Goldie Harris Gym.
(Seguin) - Seguin head volleyball coach Kristi Stanley has always believed in scheduling tough early-season matches to prepare her teams for the rigors of district and playoff competition.
Stanley's approach in 2017 is no different, and the Matadors survived their first test by rallying from a 2-1 deficit to outlast Smithson Valley in five sets Tuesday night at Goldie Harris Gym.
Seguin scratched out a 26-24 win in the first game, but dropped the next two 25-21 and 25-22.
Smithson Valley, a Class-6A program that went 34-11 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs in 2016, backed the Matadors into a corner by forging a 23-21 lead in the fourth game.
Seguin closed the set with a 5-1 run, punctuated by two Abby Cheek kills, to win 26-24 and knot up the match at 2-2.
The Matadors jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the fifth and deciding set and kept the Rangers at arm's length the rest of the way to seal the comeback with a 15-8 win.
Cheek, who finished with 26 kills, again delivered the clinching point.
Desiray Rodriguez accounted for four Seguin points in the fifth set with three kills and a block, and finished the match with 14 total kills and 3.5 blocks. .
Stanley says rallying in front of an energetic home crowd against a quality opponent was an exhilarating way to start the season.
"Really a shoutout to everybody for coming out tonight - school hasn't started, and a lot's going on, and I just am super excited that we had that much of a backing behind us this very first game," the coach said. "Didn't know a lot of what to expect from Smithson Valley, because I haven't seen them in a long time, but they really competed, they gave us a real run for our money on this game, and it was great. Our kids came out and competed and overcame some adversity, and it was good."
The Matadors fought through inconsistency in each of the first four sets.
A 22-18 lead in the first set turned into a 24-23 defict, but Seguin scored the final three points to come out on top.
Smithson Valley built a 17-12 lead in the second game, the Mats rallied to within one, 18-17, but the Rangers reeled off three straight points and maintained at least a two point lead for the rest of the set.
After falling behind, 20-7 in the third set, the Mats strung together a 17-4 run to make it 24-22 before Smithson Valley scored the winning point.
Setter Megan Wilke put up 46 assists and spread the ball around well enough to involve Cheek, Rodriguez, Presley Carter, Emmy Riordan, and Carsyn Dietz in the offensive attack, and the defensive efforts of Kaylie Koenen (26 digs), Presley Engelke (three aces), and Leandra Priestly on the back row picked up when Seguin finally seized control of the match in the fifth set.
"We did a pretty good job of minimizing their runs, which is something we talk about every single day in practice, and every match we play, but that one rotation gave us some fits, and especially game three, it was pretty ugly there," Stanley said. "We came back though, and that's what it's all about."
Seguin (1-0) travels to Round Rock to compete the Westwood Tournament today through Saturday.