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Santa Fe sweep ends Rock-A-Noos’ adversity-filled season in bi-district

In a season of adversity, Port Neches-Groves still made the UIL volleyball playoffs for a 36th season in a row.

But the Rock-A-Noos on Monday completed a season that first-year head coach Brittany Fruge had never seen in her entire volleyball career.

“I’ve coached at PNG High School for seven years. I also coached at Navarro Junior College for two. I’ve played on multiple teams, and never have I witnessed so much happen to one team in one season,” Fruge said.

The Rock-A-Noos persisted through countless injuries to earn the No. 3 seed from District 21-5A, but had no answer for Santa Fe in a 25-23, 25-21, 25-19 defeat at Barbers Hill. PNG finished the season 18-21 overall and 8-4 in 21-5A.

“The adversity is what made each of these girls grow to be stronger individuals,” Fruge said. “They came to work every single day. They never quit. They continued to fight no matter what we were faced with. I believe they learned so much about themselves and their ability to overcome difficult times with perseverance.”

Liz Bolyard, who was coming off a 20-kill, 20-dig performance almost a week earlier against Vidor, led the Rock-A-Noos with 18 kills. Paxton Shults had 20 assists and Halley Smith collected 25 digs.

Also Monday, Kasidee Sartin totaled 13 digs, Breeana Riggs made nine, Layla Stansbury blocked three and killed six and Sarah Grove totaled four kills in the loss. Maylin Louvier and Sartin each aced two.

Yet the struggles the Rock-A-Noos endured this season will carry them much further in life than one more victory, Fruge said.

“To say I am proud of the heart these kids have shown each day would be an understatement,” Fruge said. “Sometimes life isn’t fair and we don’t understand why things happen, but these kids learned that no matter what life has in store for them, if they fight they can overcome anything. The sky is the limit for them.

“I will miss my seniors. I was not ready for our journey to end, but in reality it is just beginning. The future is bright for PNG volleyball. This I can promise you.”

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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