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From left to right, Ridge Point's Alexis Roberson, Nylah Raspberry and Nina Moorer were just a few of a plethora of Panthers who starred in a Class 6A bi-district playoff sweep of Seven Lakes on Tuesday in Katy.
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 (10 kills, block), junior Sydney Jordan (seven kills, 10 digs), junior Arissa Smith (six kills, three blocks), Wilson (seven kills, block), senior Nina Moorer (five kills, 11 digs, two blocks) and freshman Kennedi Rogers (five kills, block).
Freshman Kennedi Rogers with the shot for @RP_Volleyball. Panthers up 21-18 in the first set. #txhsvb @RP_PantherPridepic.twitter.com/SjgVrT4aOv — Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II)
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 with 21 digs. Moorer ran the offense with precision, totaling 23 assists.
"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_Pantherspic.twitter.com/r53CBvz0tc — Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II)
"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."
Nina Moorer, Ridge Point
RIDGE POINT SENIOR OUTSIDE HITTER NINA MOORER IS WELL- TRAVELED. SHE HAS LIVED IN COLUMBIA, LOUISVILLE, AUSTIN, TAMPA AND HOUSTON.
Through the nomadic journey, she has had one constant: volleyball.
"One reason I am so grateful for volleyball is it has brought so many amazing people into my life that I now call my best friends," Moorer said. "With all the traveling, I love nothing more than bumping into old friends in convention centers all over the country and being able to reconnect with them.
"The volleyball community is truly a family that you have for life, no matter where you are."
Moorer started playing volleyball in the first grade after moving from Columbia, South Carolina, to Louisville, Kentucky. Her father, then coaching football for the University of Louisville, took his daughter to one of the volleyball games.
"I immediately fell in love with the game and the atmosphere that volleyball creates," Moorer said.
The goal was to always play in college, which Moorer knew was a possibility because she could see herself rapidly growing stronger and getting better. Every improvement awarded a different perspective at the potential she had.
It all eventually earned her a scholarship to the University of Louisville, a place that never left Moorer's heart.
"When I took a trip there recently, I fell in love with the city all over again," she said. "The campus, the people and the culture is so special, and after talking with the coaches, the players, my family and friends, I knew that it was the place for me."
But now an anticipated senior campaign awaits, one loaded with the typical great expectations generally associated with a perennial powerhouse like Ridge Point.
Moorer has 318 digs, 290 assists, 164 kills, 67 blocks and 22 aces for the 31-9 Panthers so far this season. She is a versatile player who prides herself on being a leader and being one step ahead of the opponent, recognizing plays and how to counter them.
She is an essential part of a stacked team full of talent. One that has what it takes to get back to the state tournament.
"This program has had many successes throughout the years, and I am so happy that I have the chance to be a part of it," Moorer said. "It does put a big target on our backs, just because of the history Ridge Point volleyball has had, and people expect us to be good. It motivates me to not only live up to those expectations, but to exceed them."
This story appeared in the Inaugural VYPE Fort Bend ISD Fall Edition, which is now available to pick up at your local Fort Bend ISD High Schools.