For the Permian and Odessa High volleyball teams, the third part of the season begins this week with the start of District 2-6A play.
The first part was the tournament portion of the season in which nearly every weekend was spent playing somewhere far on the road in a two-day tournament.
The second part (along with the first part) was the nondistrict portion of the regular season.
Now, going forward, each game will make a difference between playing in November and getting ready for next season.
“We’re very excited,” Permian head coach Gillian Herrera said. “It’s the start of our third season. We have our tournament season, our regular season and now district. We’re excited. The girls are ready to play.”
The Lady Panthers are currently 20-7 for the season and are coming off a four-set win over Wall Tuesday to close out nondistrict play at Permian Fieldhouse.
“We survived August,” Herrera said. “After August, we had already played 20 something matches. It’s nice to get a little Wednesday, Thursday in there before playing one game on Friday, but yeah, it’s nice to be back on this format.”
The Lady Bronchos enter district play at 13-6 after defeating Fort Stockton 3-1 Tuesday at OHS Fieldhouse.
“The excitement level is through the roof,” Odessa High head coach Cody Dominguez said. “We’re excited to play district. We’re excited to go in and show all our hard work that we’ve put in during the offseason and now we need to show our hard work through district play.”
Permian will begin district play against Midland High in a 5 p.m. contest Friday at Permian Fieldhouse.
“It’s anyone’s game,” Herrera said. “I don’t know what to expect. It’s up for grabs.”
Odessa High will be on the road with a 5 p.m. contest Friday at Midland Legacy, last year’s district champions.
“I’m excited,” Dominguez said. “I’m excited to go against coach (Rachel) Anglin. It’s tough because with district play, we have to see our mistakes after the game and make quick changes and get ready for the next team. When it comes time to district, we need to fix things in a short amount of time and fix things before the next game. We can’t dwell on mistakes. That’s the challenging part for us.”
Last year, Permian finished second in district play and made it to the area round of the playoffs.
However, after losing 10 seniors from last year, the first half of the season for the Lady Panthers has been about getting the younger players varsity experience.
“We only had three returners,” Herrera said. “This preseason was crucial to where we are now. We’ve had some ups and downs and we’ve been challenged. That’s what these girls needed to see against a good opponent like Wall. I’m excited to see with how they responded.”
Meanwhile, Odessa High went winless in District 2-6A competition last year.
So far this season, the players have bought in.
“Coming in, what stood out this year was how this was a brand-new team so everyone coming together and working hard has been great,” Dominguez said. “They’re putting in the hard work and being able to work together. We have girls who have played well at club volleyball. They’ve been able to play together.”
Both coaches know that this district will be a tough competition to see which four teams can make the playoff cut.
“Watching the other teams play, I know that each year, it’s going to be tough competition,” Herrera said. “Looking at them play, everyone is going to be tough like we are. They’re working hard so we have to work twice as hard and come back to make a playoff run.”
Both Permian and Odessa High will face each other on Oct. 6 (at Permian Fieldhouse) and Oct. 24 (at OHS Fieldhouse).
The two teams know they have a lot to work on as 2-6A play looms.
Herrera said the Lady Panthers need to be more dynamic on offense.
“We’ve been doing great things on offense, but how can we be better is the question right now,” Herrera said. “Good is what got us here but we have to be great come district play. We just have to be great on things.”
For the Lady Bronchos, it’s about avoiding getting behind early and taking control of the game right from the start.
“I told our team that we have our ups and downs,” Dominguez said. “We have been on a roller coaster. We have to be in control of games and stay on top. We control our game rather than another team controlling it. We need to be ahead and be the first to 25.”