Jacob Thompson can replay the entire match from the Lady Raiders’ loss to Cedar Park in the state semifinals last November. Set by set and point by point, he can give you a play-by-play of the match.
Much of the Rouse team that made it that deep in the playoffs have returned. The Lady Raiders are ranked No. 1 in the state by Texas Girls Coaches Association and are rolling through district play, having won 37 straight sets.
“It’s a new year and a new slate,” Thompson said. “But in the back of every kid’s mind inside the program, that drives them. You can ask anyone. They can specifically tell you what their driving force is. You’re not in sports if you’re not remembering something like that etched in your brain.”
Of course, Thompson would’ve liked to have been on the winning side of things last November, but he said the five-set thriller was one of the best matches in the state and it was made all the better because they were facing a rival with such high stakes.
The rematch is one week away when the Lady Timberwolves host the Lady Raiders. The Two teams were at the top of the district a year ago with each squad winning one match and the two sharing the district title.
“The girls know each other and they hang out with each other and they’re probably playing on each other’s club teams so they’re around each other all year long,” Thompson said. “That’s what creates the rivalry. That creates the mentality and mindset behind those matches.”
Rouse swept Elgin to begin district play before rolling through the LISD Volleypalooza tournament. The Lady Raiders swept Cedar Creek, Bastrop, Georgetown, and East View overt he also two weeks.
The Lady Raiders host Bowie in a non-district match on Friday night and welcome Hutto on Tuesday before the showdown at Cedar Park next Friday night.
Thompson said the key to his team’s success is that everyone is important from the star player to the athlete that doesn’t see the court much. No role is too small.
Rouse is naturally taking it one match at a time. At seasons end, there could be 54 matches and the season is just over halfway finished. But the Lady Raiders are taking extra precaution so they’re not in the same situation as last year and they’re riding home disappointed.
“All the kids hold each other accountable,” Thompson said. “Everyone plays a specific role and each of the roles is very important. It’s about keeping everyone humble. We talk about where our feet are and that’s our process. No one is above anyone else.”