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Corpus Christi Caller-Times
The first time Anisa Martinez saw the gym at Taft High School after Hurricane Harvey, her first thought was "How are we going to be able to play?"
The school's high school gym suffered significant water damage to the point where the gym floor was in the words of long-time volleyball coach Tasha Wilson "toast." The floor needed to be replaced and that forced the volleyball team to find other gyms. From early September through Monday's Class 3A regional quarterfinal loss to area-power London, the Greyhounds were on a journey they will not forget.
"It's a wild ride," Martinez said with tears in her eyes Monday night at Calallen. "We lost our gym and we thought it was over. But I thought we were going to make the best of it and we did. We went out and gave it our all every practice."
Wilson said the program lost 28 balls and a ball cart but the biggest issue was gym time. After the storm, a scramble began to find gyms or somewhere for the team to practice was a priority. The team's last home game was on August 22 against Rockport-Fulton. The school did not open until Sept. 25.
Wilson said Sinton offered gym space and George West allowed them to use the gym on Saturdays. The Portland Community Center also offered up space for a limited amount of time each week. On days that they did not have gym space, they practiced outside on the school grounds.
The school's maintenance personnel put in two poles and installed a badminton net in a parking lot between the gymnasium and tennis courts.
It was not an ideal situation but it only served to helped the team focus on succeeding.
"Some of our kids had problems at their homes too," Wilson said. "I think when the realization set in that we are going to be practicing 8-12 hours a week, the kids got in their heads we are going to make this a season to remember and we are going to bust our butts."
The Greyhounds finished the regular season, taking second in District 29-3A behind defending state champion Goliad.
Taft won its bi-district game in straight sets before topping Santa Rosa in a five-set thriller to advance to the regional quarterfinals for the fourth-straight season.
"Our coach has pushed us to try our hardest and to believe in ourselves," said senior Mariah Montemayor. "She makes sure we found a gym somewhere even if we are traveling six days a week. We only played two games on our home court early in the season. I guess you can say we stayed undefeated on our home court in 2017."
Monday night at Calallen, there were tears mixed with smiles after the Greyhounds' season ended in a sweep to the Pirates.
There was frustration for losing a game but also a realization that the team won 27 matches while practicing where they could when they could.
"It was an experience that I'm never going to forget," Martinez said. "For the other schools to take us under their wing and let us use their facilities in order for us to get our practices in was great."
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