KATY—The hashtag on social media is “#DefyTheOdds.” It personifies Ridge Point volleyball.
Dating back to last year, the Panthers have felt overlooked, unappreciated. Maybe even disrespected? That's been the drive behind this year's team, which craves any and every opportunity to show what it's got.
The Panthers showed plenty Tuesday evening at the Merrell Center. Ridge Point swept defending Class 6A state champ Seven Lakes in their Region III-6A bi-district playoff, 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-23).
It wasn't easy. It was tough. It demanded a lot out of them. But then again, that's how the Panthers want it as they seek a third state tournament appearance in four years.
"We had motivation losing in the first round last year," coach Lauryn Bailey said. "After the 2019 team graduated, people brushed us under the rug. They said we didn't have much talent. We had talent last year; we just couldn't put the pieces together.
"This year, with people counting us out, our girls took that personally. The odds are stacked against us, and we've preached keep working. It showed tonight. At one point we were down six or seven points, and they kept working. That's what we're trying to do.
"We're going to keep working until somebody gets rid of us."
Ridge Point is 34-10, winners of 17 of the last 18 games.
"Our good chemistry off the court really shows on the court," senior Kayla Wilson said. "It shows when we play and hit and swing and set each other up. We're there for each other."
The Panthers got production from everywhere. Six players had five or more kills: senior Alexis Roberson (nine kills, block), junior Sydney Jordan (seven kills), junior Arissa Smith (six kills, three blocks), Wilson (seven kills, block), senior Nina Moorer (six kills, block) and freshman Kennedi Rogers (five kills, block).
Senior libero Nylah Raspberry, whom Bailey praised as a leader for establishing an accountability within this team that wasn't there last season, was brilliant defensively. Moorer ran the offense with precision.
"From top to bottom, from 14-year-old to 18-year-old, we're all the same," Wilson said. "We're all equally as good. No one thinks they're better than anyone else. That's what I love about this team. We're together."
Seven Lakes went up 11-5 in the third set. Ridge Point rallied back to eventually force an 18-all tie. Then the Spartans went back up by three, 21-18. The Panthers again answered, tying it at 21-all.
From there, Smith had two big points, and sophomore Carrington Cook put the game away with her third point of the game.
Carrington Cook with the capper in what was an amazing third set. @RP_Volleyball wins 25-23 to sweep defending 6A state champ Seven Lakes. #txhsvb @RP_PantherPride @RPHS_Panthers pic.twitter.com/r53CBvz0tc— Dennis Silva II (@densilva02) November 3, 2021
"The depth is what makes us so good," Bailey said. "We're able to go to practice every day and compete every day because of our depth. That's because of our seniors, our leadership. They come to work every day at practice and don't let whether you're a freshman or sophomore or whoever affect anything. Everyone comes in, everyone works hard, and we go home. We do what we need to do."
'Keep working,' as Bailey likes to say. The Panthers are surging because of that work, and they're continuing to get better. Defense is turning into offense. The offense is playing at a considerably faster pace than earlier this season.
It's a team of players that makes no excuses and gets the job done. No questions asked.
"Everyone understands they have a job to do," Bailey said. "Nothing is taken personally or emotionally or to heart. They just keep working."