Rock-A-Noos’ goal bigger than playoff streak

Published 6:27 pm Friday, August 5, 2016

PORT NECHES — The Port Neches-Groves Rock-A-Noos never talk about the streak to start a season.

PNG has made the playoffs 33 straight years. That is the streak.

The Rock-A-Noos are back to work on making it 34 under Hall of Fame coach Barbara Comeaux.

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“Our goal this year is to be district champs,” senior Kailey Oliver said. “It would be nice to go out as a district champion. We are working to get back in the playoffs. Last season’s first round exit left a bad taste in our mouth. We want to go further.”

PNG was ousted by Kingwood Park in the bi-district round last year. Just reaching the playoffs was a fight for the Rock-A-Noos in 2015.

The Rock-A-Noos finished in a three-way tie for third with Lumberton and Ozen. Lumberton won a flip and was in. PNG and Ozen faced off in a play-in match, and it took five games to give the Rock-A-Noos the playoff nod.

Ozen even had a 13-11 lead in the fifth set before the Rock-A-Noos went on to win 17-15.

Comeaux’s squads have reached the playoffs 42 of 45 seasons.

“Last year was a struggle,” Comeaux admitted. “For us to come in third place was an accomplishment. These kids know that they can do better. They have been working extremely hard in the offseason. We had one of the better offseason programs. I am just proud of their work ethic.”

PNG finished 24-16 in 2015 and was 7-5 in District 22-5A play. Comeaux’s teams in her career have won a state-record 1,179 matches and also grabbed 29 district titles.

“If we put it all together as a team this year, I look for good things to happen,” Comeaux added. “There is no doubt Goose Creek Memorial would have been a strong contender had they stayed down in 5A. Livingston always has a very competitive program and you can’t anyone lightly.

“We haven’t seen Port Arthur Memorial but they are coming out of a tough Class 6A district,” Comeaux said about the Titans. “They are used to strong competition. We are going to have to play one game at a time. Hopefully the tournaments we are in will give us some confidence before district.”

Comeaux gets her first look at the Rock-A-Noos in a tri-match with Dayton and Bridge City in Cardinals Gym. The match starts at 4:30 p.m.

PNG then hits the road Thursday to begin the Huffman tournament.

“It feels great being back on the court,” Oliver said. “We have been working all summer. The first week is the hardest work. We came to open gyms and working together.”

Comeaux said she expects a better attack this season with stronger hitters. Junior Libbie LeJeune, along with Oliver, showed some pop in Friday’s practice and Mackenzie Tindel looked strong on defense.

“The seniors are taking control of leadership and that is important,” Comeaux said. “We have a lot of work to do on defense. We are working on all phases. You can’t just win with offense. Defense keeps you from losing the games. If we can play good defense, it will give us more opportunities for the offense we have to be more aggressive.

“I am most impressed with the chemistry of the team. They are encouraging with each other and pushing each other in practice. Practice is tough. We want to be in good physical shape. We still have a ways to go.”

Gabriel Pruett: 721-2436. Twitter: @PaNewsGabe

About Gabriel Pruett

Gabriel Pruett has worked with both the Port Arthur News and Orange Leader since 2000. A majority of the time has been spent covering all aspects of Southeast Texas high school sports. Pruett's claim to fame is...being able to write his own biographical information for this website.

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