Rock-A-Noos back in familiar territory in area round

Published 6:52 pm Thursday, November 3, 2016

PORT NECHES — The Port Neches-Groves Rock-A-Noos are back in the second round of the UIL volleyball playoffs for the first time since 2012.

PNG, ranked eighth in 5A by the Texas Girls Coaches Association, won a five-set thriller Tuesday over Conroe Caney Creek and now face Galveston Ball at 6 p.m. Friday at Baytown Sterling’s Winnie Brown Gym.

Ball comes into the match at 32-8 after completing a three-game sweep of Houston Austin Tuesday. Ball won 25-15, 25-19 and 25-13.

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“The biggest thing for us is to stay focused,” Hall of Fame PNG coach Barbara Comeaux said. “We can’t let up at any point in the match.”

This is not the first time PNG has faced Ball. On Aug. 8 at the Dickinson tournament, the Tornadoes won the match 25-22, 24-26 and 25-23.

“I know our girls are excited to play them again,” Comeaux said. “You have to assume Galveston Ball has gotten better through the years, but so have we.”

PNG got to this point after defeating Caney Creek 24-26, 25-18, 21-25, 25-20 and 15-11.

Comeaux reported Caney Creek played great defense on Tuesday but she had several players on her squad do the same. Libbie LeJeune led the Rock-A-Noos with 40 digs while Bayja Newby added 21 and Rachel Hammersmith finished with 20. Hammersmith led the team with 24 assists and LeJeune had a team-high 14 kills.

The match ended when Elizabeth Bolyard’s shot hit the ground for her third kill.

“You have to give Caney Creek credit because they played tremendous defense,” Comeaux said. “We got sucked into playing the way they wanted to play, and the match turned for us when we got back to doing what we do best.”

Comeaux said her team really benefitted from playing a tiebreaker over Nederland that settled which team went into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed. PNG and Nederland shared the District 22-5A title.

The Rock-A-Noos needed five sets to defeat the Bulldogs 25-23, 25-11, 16-25, 23-25 and 15-11.

“Nederland was such a strong defensive team,” Comeaux said. “It was just like Caney Creek. I think that tiebreaker really helped us be prepared.”

This is the 34th straight season the Rock-A-Noos qualified for the playoffs. This year’s district title was No. 30 in Comeaux’s career.

Tonight’s winner faces either sixth-ranked Barbers Hill or Shadow Creek in the regional quarterfinals either Monday or Tuesday.

Gabriel Pruett: 721-2435. 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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