HARPER — When the Ingram volleyball team bus rolled into Ingram at about 10 p.m. last Friday, the Ingram Fire Department greeted the Lady Warriors with a champion’s reception.
The firemen honked their the firetrucks’ horns and blared their sirens — their way of congratulating the Lady Warriors on winning the Shiner Tournament. The celebration continued when the bus arrived at Tom Moore Ingram high school. About 45 fans waited in the parking to offer their congratulations. Karenrose Vela, the wife of Ingram coach Tony Vela, even provided some music, playing Queen’s “We are the Champions.”
“It was really cool. … We had no idea what was happening,” junior outside hitter Anna Crittenden said. “It kind of clicked when we went by the fire station, but we were really surprised. It’s nice to have a support system.”
It’s an exciting time to be an Ingram volleyball fan. Once again, Crittenden and her teammates received plenty of support on Tuesday night, with Ingram fans cramming into the visiting bleachers in Harper’s gymnasium. Once again, the Lady Warriors gave their fans plenty of reasons to cheer, overcoming a sluggish first set to roll to a four-set (19-25, 25-9, 25-20, 25-18) victory over the Lady Longhorns on Tuesday night.
Crittenden led Ingram (6-1) with 14 kills, nine assists and 14 digs. Sophomore Makenna Gelsone contributed eight kills, 23 assist and 12 digs. Middle blocker Karlie Bonam added eight kills and four blocks.
“I was pleased we got the win,” Tony Vela said. “I would like to see more consistency throughout start to finish, but we will get there. That happens a lot when you have a young group. … I was very pleased with the adjustments they were able to make in the final three sets.”
Admittedly, Vela was anticipating a slow start on Tuesday, considering his Lady Warriors hadn’t played a match in three days. The Lady Warriors certainly didn’t play their best in the first set, committing uncharacteristic errors that allowed Harper (5-3) to build a 20-11 lead.
The Lady Warriors, though, regrouped to flex their talent in the final three sets. The match shifted in Ingram’s favor when Gelsone trotted toward the back line to begin her serve in the second set. When she delivered her first serve, the Lady Warriors were tied 9-9. She continued serving for the remainder of the set, propelling the Lady Warriors to a 25-9 triumph.
“It’s really nice that we have Makenna,” Crittenden said. “She does a lot of different things that most setters wouldn’t be able to do.”
The Lady Warriors were never really in any danger from that point. Sometimes, Gelsone set to Crittenden on the outsides. Other times, she delivered sets to middle blocker Bonam at the face of the net. And there were even times when it was Crittenden setting, and Gelsone delivering kills. The final result was another victory. All that was left was to celebrate with their fans who had made the 30-minute trip to Harper.
“The support has always been there, but to have as much support as we are getting? It’s been great for the kids to see that,” Vela said. “The kids are buying in. That’s the biggest thing. … They play selfless volleyball.
“It takes (all 10 varsity players) for us to be successful, and they are doing that. If we can continue that, we will be OK.”