The last time Kilgore High School volleyball won a district title, "Blame It On the Rain" was a hit on the radio, and "Batman" -- with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson -- was the box office champion.
Kilgore is celebrating the 30th anniversary of their last district championship team… by winning the district championship, at least a share of it.
Kilgore has one game left in the regular season. That’s at Bullard on Tuesday night. The Lady Bulldogs can win the District 16-4A title outright with a win, or share it with a loss. But Kilgore can do no worse than share the title: they already have a win over Bullard, back on Oct. 4.
Freshmen will play at 4:30 p.m. at Bullard Tuesday, followed by junior varsity, and then varsity. Apparently, the school is allowing students to ride a fan bus to the game. The Kilgore High School volleyball Facebook page said any youth wishing to ride a bus to the contest should get in touch with Misty Shipman at St. Luke’s Methodist, with Bobby Catt at First Baptist Church, or with Matt Korzeniewski at Forest Home.
Another post encouraged all Kilgore fans to get to Bullard for the game and wear red.
What the Lady Bulldogs, coached by Madeline Harris, have done is won 10 straight games, having beaten Chapel Hill in a sweep on Friday. Kilgore has swept their last three opponents, and hasn’t lost a game at all since losing at Henderson on the opening night of district play, back on Sept. 17.
The latest sweep was a 25-23, 25-10, 25-6 win over Chapel Hill, here on Friday afternoon. Seniors Jada Abercromie, Lauren Couch, Skyler Day, and Dayton McElyea were all honored prior to the game – they were introduced and presented gifts by other teammates.
Miah Thomas had 11 kills in the three sets for Kilgore (19-12 overall this season). Abercrombie had seven, and McElyea, six. Couch had five, Day had two, and Alexis Anderson and Skye Cotton each had one.
Abercrombie had two blocks; Thomas had two; Ashton Vallery had 17 assists and McElyea had 14; Day and Abercrombie each had seven digs; A’viana McIntyre and Thomas each had six; Couch had five; McElyea had four; Vallery had three, and Anderson had two.
Abercombie had three aces; Couch, Day, McElyea, Vallery and McIntyre each had two, and Thomas had one.
Kathy Mehringer, a longtime Kilgore coach and instructor, was in attendance for the game against Chapel Hill, and recalled the last time the Lady Bulldogs had real success on the volleyball court.
“We actually went to the state tournament,” Mehringer recalled, referring to the fall 1988 version of the Lady Bulldogs. “We won (district) the next year (in 1989), and I’m just really, really happy that they’re doing it again this year.”
Kilgore lost to Dumas in the UIL Class 4A state semifinals in fall, 1988; Dumas went on to beat Channelview in the 4A state championship round, and then won the state title again the following season, as well.
As Mehringer said, the Lady Bulldogs won the district title the following season, in fall, 1989, but haven’t been able to do so since – in the seasons since 2002, Kilgore has had numerous coaches, although the last two have seen improvements.
Since then, there have been some dark days for Kilgore volleyball. When sets were played to 15 points, instead of 25 as they are now, Kilgore often had lost three sets in less than 30 minutes.
But there has been a turnaround in recent seasons, and coach Harris and her assistants, Trushunda McGill and Cheyenne Kirkpatrick, have taken the current players great strides.
Lacy Thompson (now Latham), a former Kilgore player in her own right, led the program for a few years with some success, and then Lacy (Osborne) Coldiron was Kilgore’s coach the last four seasons, getting the Lady ‘Dogs to the postseason in three of them.
Kilgore just kept making the playoffs as the number four seed, unable to get out of the first round while going against the champion of another district. One year, it was against unbeaten North Lamar.
If Kilgore can seal the district title outright with a win at Bullard on Tuesday, they’ll go into the playoffs as the unquestioned number one seed, and they will get to play a number four. The game at Bullard on Tuesday is big.