Dawson head volleyball coach Jason Karim was confident entering the 2017 season, but that confidence grew after his girls proved they are going to be a strong favorite to defend their District 23-6A title and be a favorite to capture the Class 6A Region III crown that would propel them to a first-ever state volleyball appearance.
Karim is quick to not look too far ahead as his coaching philosophy has always been to take one match at a time, but he knows that his team has the talent to have their greatest year ever at Dawson.
“It’s such a great tournament – you get tested right away from the opening pool,” Karim said of his team’s weekend performance. “The games we were winning, we kept a calm mental state, and we weren’t riding an emotional wave.”
The Lady Eagles had wins against All Saints (25-12, 25-14), Grapevine (25-14, 25-16), Flower Mound Marcus (23-25, 25-13, 25-19), Dripping Springs (26-28, 25-11, 25-11), San Antonio O’Connor (25-17, 26-24) and San Antonio Brandeis (25-20, 24-26, 25-17).
Their only losses were to Colleyville Heritage (21-25, 25-18, 25-19) and defending state champion Lewisville Hebron (21-25, 25-17, 25-13), both in three sets.
“The core of our team is returnees so I wouldn’t say we had any surprises,” Karim said. “But I did think Maddie Deslatte did an especially good job in day two and day three of the tournament with her blocking and hitting.
Physically, we have a lot of the tools in the right places. For us, it’s just about staying aggressive, and not being worried if an error will cost us a point.
“If we can stay aggressive, I trust our defense against anybody’s.”
There was a 78-team field that invaded Pearland as the nation’s largest high school volleyball tournament named appropriately after founder and retired Pearland volleyball coach John Turner.
It was the first year after two decades that Turner watched his team on the court without having a direct impact after retiring last year and handing over the keys to new head coach Christian Dunn who served with Turner last year as associate head coach.
“I’m just as busy as if I was coaching,” Turner said. “I’ll be here all three days, helping Christian (Dunn, Pearland coach) and Jason (Karim, Dawson coach).
“Planning this goes through the spring and the summer, making checklists in order that everything is ready to go. I also want to help them transition through the next year or two when they take control.”
Turner did take the time to watch Pearland earlier in the week before the start of the tournament.
“It was strange at first watching Pearland (Tuesday night), but it was also nice to sit back and watch,” he said. “Christian is meshing and making it his own program.
“He’s still using some things that we did, plus using what he brings to the program.”
Pearland Lady Oilers struggle
Unfortunately, Pearland struggled throughout the tournament and was only able to capture one win.
The Lady Oilers’ lone win came in a 25-13, 25-20 victory over All Saints, but Pearland did have matches against Clear Lake (25-17, 30-28, 23-25), Peaster (16-25, 25-19, 23-19), Smithson Valley (25-16, 24-26, 25-12), and Richmond Foster (17-25, 29-27, 27-25) all go to a decisive third set, and three of those were decided by two points.
Fort Bend Ridge Point (25-21, 25-22) and Oklahoma power Jenks High School (25-22, 25-21) also posted losses on the Lady Oilers.
San Antonio Reagan upended defending state champion Hebron 25-22, 25-21 for the John Turner Classic championship.