Randall coach Haleigh Burns, left, and Amarillo High coach, Mike Moffitt, will coach in their first ever Battle of Bell Street rivalry game. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sport
They’ll be no better showcase of high school volleyball in the Texas Panhandle when arguably the city’s best volleyball rivalry comes head-to-head for the first of two regular season meetings Tuesday night.
It’s No. 3 Randall traveling down Bell Street to battle arch rival Amarillo High at 7 p.m. at the AHS Activity Center.
To make the story even better, Tuesday’s winner takes the outright lead in the District 3-5A standings.
The Lady Raiders (27-3 overall) and the Lady Sandies (21-11) are both a perfect 6-0 so far through the league schedule.
This intense encounter also sees a new era begin on the sideline.
Mike Moffitt, the first male coach in Lady Sandies history, is the third AHS coach in as many seasons.
As well traveled as Moffitt‘s been on the volleyball scene throughout his career, he’s well aware of the Bell Street rivalry.
“It’s a game that a lot of folks had circled at the beginning of the year,” Moffitt said. “Everyone is looking forward to this game. Both teams have taken care of business so far and are undefeated in district. It’s really exciting and something everyone has talked about.”
For the first time since 2006, it’s a female coach pacing the sideline for Randall in Haleigh Burns.
Burns, who spent the past four years as the coach at Caprock, took over for Jason Culpepper. Culpepper spent 12 years as the Lady Raiders coach before taking over the same position at Bushland last spring.
Burns says coaching in elite matches like this is why she made the jump to Randall.
“This is so exciting,” said Burns, who earned her 100th win on Saturday. “This is why you play and why you coach. It’s been in the back of our minds since we started practice at the first of August. I’m ready, the team is ready. It’s going to be an amazing atmosphere.”
Randall has been untouchable of late, riding a 32-game district win streak.
The Lady Raiders are 6-0 in district this season, and were a perfect 16-0 under former coach Jason Culpepper last year.
The win streak started on Sept. 26, 2017 when Randall swept Plainview, on its way to winning the last 10 district matches.
Ironically, the Lady Raiders last loss in a District 3-5 meeting was at Amarillo High almost two years to the day of Tuesday’s match on Sept. 23, 2017.
Randall’s Brianna Ford has a team-high 199 kills this season. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]
Randall players to watch
Randall is led by six savvy seniors, and one is itching to make her mark. Powerful hitter Brianna Ford missed both games against Amarillo High last year with an injury. This season, Ford is playing a the top of her game. So far this year, the 6-foot-1, outside hitter has 199 kills with 177 digs and 50 blocks.
Stevie Reynecke and Zoe Parker two others that will be major impacts.
Reynecke is having a fantastic season with 96 kills and 36 blocks.
Parker is the teams floor captain, leading by example with 145 digs, knocking down 135 kills.
Amarillo High’s Chelsie Freeman celebrates a point earlier this season. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]
Amarillo High players to watch
Like Randall, AHS is loaded with senior talent. The Lady Sandies are a team that shares the wealth on the floor and It starts in the middle with Chelsie Freeman. Freeman has pounded out 179 kills with 51 blocks. Teammate Lauren Marler follows with 177 kills and 71 blocks.
Another senior to keep an eye is one of the top setters in the state in Hannah Shipman. Shipman’s given out 612 assists on the season.