SHINER - All one has to do is look at the patches of Ieisha Flowers' letterman jacket to see how successful she's been on the court and athletic field.
Ieisha Flowers, front, has started for the Shiner Lady Comanches for four years and has been one of the keys to their recent successes. The Lady Comanches will be making their first-ever trip to the state volleyball tournament on Friday when they face Windthorst in an 11 a.m. semifinal at Strahan Coliseum on the campus of Texas State University in San Marcos. Photo Credit: Roni Gendler/Advocate Staff Photographer
The four-sport athlete has had plenty of success during her first three years of high school and this year has started off no differently for the Shiner Lady Comanche senior.
After two near misses as a freshman and junior, Flowers has been an instrumental part in the Lady Comanches' first-ever berth in the state UIL volleyball tournament.
"Three years ago we started three freshmen on the floor and all three have played a major impact on these young ladies that sit here today," Lady Comanches coach Michelle Winkenwerder said. "Each of them has their own roles to play.
"Ieisha is kind of like the exciting playmaker. If any spectacular hits are going to come off the front row, they are usually going to come from her and usually gets the crowd going."
Flowers took up volleyball in seventh grade mostly for the fun of it, but quickly developed into an outstanding player and one of Shiner's leaders on the court.
"Down in junior high you try everything just for the fun of it," Flowers said. "By my freshman year I started working hard and got my position on varsity."
The outside hitter hasn't disappointed her coach since.
She earned first team all-state honors from the Texas Sports Writers Association as a sophomore, and as a junior, was recognized by the Texas Girls Coaches Association as an all-stater.
She was the District 27-1A Defensive Player of the Year last year after compiling 314 kills, 319 digs, and 123 blocks in leading the Lady Comanches to the Region IV-1A final.
Unfortunately for Flowers and her teammates, the Lady Comanches were unable to overcome district-rival Flatonia and fell for the second time in three years in the regional final.
But all those disappointments were erased Saturday when the Lady Comanches dispatched Yorktown in three games to advance to the state tournament where they will face Windthorst on Friday at 11 a.m. at Strahan Coliseum on the campus of Texas State University in San Marcos.
"It was the greatest feeling," Flowers said. "Our freshman year we wanted to get there so bad. We had Hillary Pustka and we thought we were going to get there and then to fall short was real disappointing. Then to come up short again last year, it was great to finally pull together and pull through and get there."
Flowers had compiled 14 games in which she had 10 or more kills going into the playoffs as she finished the regular season with 318 kills, 234 digs and 85 blocks.
That success doesn't end on the volleyball court either.
She earned all-state softball honors last year in helping her team to the Class 1A state championship. She also participated in the regional track meet and played a hand in her team's playoff run in basketball as well.
"I just try to be myself throughout the year," Flowers said. "We work hard and that hard work pays off."
Now Flowers and her teammates hope that hard work pays off with two more wins over the volleyball court and another state title for the school.
Paul Ebner is the assistant sports editor for the Victoria Advocate.
Contact him at 361-580-6507 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.