To the victors go the spoils.
While the Carthage Lady Bulldog volleyball team may not have captured everything they were after, the UIL Class 4A State Semifinals, their 41-5 record and No. 5 state ranking were a testament to the hard work they put in to get ready for the 2019 season.
As a result, the team dominated the District 20-4A postseason awards, winning or sharing all six Special Awards and placing four other players on the teams themselves.
“I still haven’t found the words to describe this season,” second-year head coach dawn Stewart said. “All the different feelings. So many emotions.
“I guess the best thing I take from it is that hard work pays off. Or, if you believe it, you can achieve it.”
An off-season meeting got the whole ball rolling.
“The girls sat down in a meeting in April of this year and wrote down their goals,” Stewart said. “I told them what they would have to do to reach those goals. They sacrificed their spring and summers to reach their goals. To see them achieve so much of it, that’s what stands out so much to me.
“The girls were so hungry and bought into it. The community rallied behind them and it was pretty inspiring, really. It’s just too bad we came up short.
The future is going to be a little bit different for the Top Dawg as she won’t have her daughter, Kristen, on the tam anymore. While the coach was winning Coach of the Year in the District 20-4A accolades, daughter Kristen was named the district’s Setter of the Year.
“We’ve been doing it for a couple of years and I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” the coach said. “There were a lot of highs and lows and a lot of life lessons learned from the experience. Anything I asked her to do, she did it. Setter’s not really her position, but her Mom asked her to play there. There were a lot of times I just sat back and watched her play. I was so proud of her.”
Phenomenal isn’t a word most people just throw around, but Stewart uses it often taking about District 20-4A MVP Cami Hicks.
“She’s phenomenal in every sense of the word,” Stewart said. “I had heard about her before I moved here and when I got here she was hurt. She’s every coach’s dream. She’s pleasantly polite, she gets things done. There were a few times I had to ask her to sacrifice part of her game for the team and she was happy to do it.
“She’s a class act and a leader on and off the court. To watch her do what she does on the court is phenomenal.
Senior Chesney Baker is the district’s Defensive MVP.
“So many things were asked of her this season,” said Stewart. “Like being better setting. She took on a big role as a leader and she held everybody accountable, whether they were friend or foe. She was the smallest player on the team, but arguably she played the biggest.”
Faith Kruebbe shared Offensive MVP honors with Raylee White of Jasper. She is one of, if not the tallest Lady Bulldog and Stewart is hoping for more growth from the sophomore.
“A lot of people know abut Faith and the amount of work she puts in,” Stewart said. “She gave what it took to become one of our main options on offense. She’s a 6-footer, but we depend on her to play all over the court for us. That says a lot about her.
Another sophomore, Makhai Lewis, shared Newcomer of the Year award with fellow sophomore Kaylee Rivenbark of Huntington.According to her coach there’s not a lot she shares.
“Makhai came in during the spring and her big thing was fitting in with the group,” the coach said. “She was nervous cause she didn’t want to let anyone down. She just kept working harder and harder because she didn’t want to let us down. She’s a hustler and has a superior talent.
“If you’re going to go somewhere to compete, she’s the one you want on your team.”
Besides taking all six Special Honors on the All-District team, four other Lady Bulldogs were also honored.
Senior McKenna Zett was the lone Carthage player on the first team, while fellow seniors Jada McLinn and Addi Surratt were second-team selections. Sophomore Sadie Smith was an honorable mention pick.
The volleyball team backed up their brawn with brain as 13 were named Academic All-District.
Named to the team were: Chesney Baker, Cami Hicks, Kinsey King, Jada McLin, Kristen Stewart, Addison Surratt, McKenna Zett, Carline Baldree, Crosbey Beatty, Kaliyah Timmons, Faith Kruebbe, Makhai Lewis and Sadie Smith.
MVP — Cami Hicks, Carthage, Senior
Co-Offensive MVP — Faith Kruebbe Carthage So; Raylee White Jasper Sr
Defensive MVP — Chesney Baker Carthage Sr
Newcomer of the Year — Makhai Lewis Carthage So; Kaylee Rivenbark Huntington So
Setter of the Year — Kristen Stewart Carthage Sr
Coach of the Year — Dawn Stewart, Carthage
First Team: McKenna Zett Carthage Sr; Halle Flynt Huntington Jr; Kinley Shumake Jasper Sr; Alex Patton Center Jr.
Second Team: Jada McLinn Carthage Sr; Addie Surratt Carthage Sr; Abby Kirkland Huntington Jr; Skylar Causey Center So; Ja’Kayla Brown Jasper So; Kara Teer Huntington Jr.
Honorable Mention: Sadie Smith Carthage So
Academic All District
Carthage: Chesney Baker, Cami Hicks, Kinsey King, Jada McLin, Kristen Stewart, Addison Surratt, McKenna Zett, Carline Baldree, Crosbey Beatty, Kaliyah Timmons, Faith Kruebbe, Makhai Lewis, Sadie Smith
Huntington: Kaylee Rivenbark, Emma Tatum, Halle Flynt, Emma McGuire, Abby Kirkland, Courtney Smith, Kara Teer
Jasper: Raylee White, Ta’Christlian Smith, Britney Richard, Kinley Shumake, Amorie Woods, Kiarra Sells, Ashton Boulware, Jaleiah McDougal, Kaleigh White, Shacora Reed
Center: Baileigh Barrera, Skylar Causey, Jasmine Cooks, McKenzi Jowers