HORN VOLLEYBALL MAKAILA HARRIS

Horn junior Makaila Harris and the Jaguars have won five of their last six matches as they head into the playoffs.

Horn has helped carry the banner for Mesquite ISD volleyball in recent years.

The Jaguars have established themselves as a perennial playoff team, and have secured a spot in the postseason for the 13th time in 14 years and run their current streak to eight in a row.

This week’s bi-district round of the volleyball playoffs will mark the first postseason action in high school sports since last March, when the University Interscholastic League was forced to act due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It has not been the smoothest of seasons through the fall, with an abbreviated non-district slate, but the Jaguars (11-8, 8-4) were able to complete their 10-6A slate in a tie for third place and will take on 9-6A champion Wylie at 7 p.m. Thursday at Wylie.

Horn sat at 3-3 through its first six district matches, but got hot down the stretch winning five of its final six. That included a five-set win over Tyler Legacy, and in their last outing, the Jaguars rallied from a two-game deficit to outlast 10-6A runner-up Rockwall-Heath in five.

Horn expected to be in the playoff race with a solid nucleus back from last year’s squad. Makaila Harris, a 5-11 junior, is one of the better all-around players in the district. Harris leads the Jaguars with 2.8 kills per game, has recorded 33 aces and 3.7 digs per set and is also one of the team’s best in returning serve.

Senior Charlize Williams gives them a 6-0 presence at the net and leads the team with 34 blocks and junior Samiah Williams has also contributed up front. Sophomore Ryan Henderson is one of the top backline players, recording 4.3 digs per set and they have a pair of solid setters with juniors Auria Lias (5.3 assists per game) and Arianna Tubbs (3.4 apg).

The Jaguars have also gotten a big boost from a pair of freshmen in Madison Mosley and Jada Shepherd.

Mosley ranks second on the team with 2.5 kills per set to go along with 32 aces and 2.7 digs per game. Shepherd is recording 1.1 kills and 2.4 digs per set with a team-high 37 aces and has also given Horn a third reliable setter with 3.7 assists per game.

The late-season push allowed the Jaguars to finish in a tie for third place with Tyler Legacy, and they won the coin flip to claim the third seed. In certain situations, that could make a big difference, but not this year, as 9-6A featured co-champions in Sachse and Wylie, and they also flipped a coin to determine the top two seeds.

Horn knew it was going to be a challenge either way and it will try its hand against the Pirates (17-3) as they pursue their first trip to the area finals since 2015.

For continued coverage on the local sports scene, follow Devin Hasson on Twitter: @DevinHasson

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