• Burleson’s volleyball team finished second in the Gold Bracket of Abilene’s Bev Ball Classic. The Lady Elks lost to Boerne Champion in the title match. Burleson opens play at the Granbury Tournament today. BURLESON STAR/COURTESY PHOTO

Lady Elks finish second in Abilene

Sophomore’s Mia Smalls and Emily Rich led the charge for Burleson’s volleyball team over the weekend at Abilene’s Bev Ball Classic.

The pair each earned tournament honors and the Lady Elks nearly brought home the title.

Burleson fell to Boerne Champion in Saturday’s Gold Bracket title game, 25-22, 22-25, 25-19.

“Almost all of our matches went to three games so we had some down moments, but we fought back and showed a lot of character in those matches,” Burleson coach D’Anna Newton said. “I’m super proud of them. They didn’t give up at any point. It was a long day on Saturday because matches were pushed back. There was a lot of sitting and we had to play back-to-back. It was difficult but it was a good test for us.”

Smalls was honored as the Setter of the Tournament and Rich garnered all-tournament honors for her play.

“Mia is just a constant for us,” Newton said. “She’s our setter and the one we rely on the most.”

Rich benefitted from Smalls sets with big kills all weekend.

“Emily is someone we feed the ball to when she is on the front row,” Newton said. “She’s an all-around player for us. We rely on her for her serve receive, serving and getting kills.”

The Lady Elks went 2-1 in pool play Friday to reach the Gold Bracket. Burleson beat El Paso Americas, 22-25, 25-22, 25-22 and Hawley, 25-18, 25-6 and lost to Wylie 21-25, 25-23, 25-17.

In bracket play, Burleson defeated El Paso East Lake, 27-25, 25-22, 25-20 and topped Lubbock Coronado, 27-25, 29-27, in the semifinals.

“It was a great team effort,” Newton said. “I saw a lot of good things but we have to stop giving away points. But there is nothing that we can’t fix. There are things that could come back to bite us if we don’t correct them.”

Newton praised the play of middle blockers Maddie Gregory and Emily White, who were seeing their first extended varsity action. She also said junior hitter Ellie Strebeck and defensive specialists senior Kyra Smith and freshman Emma Dustin played well.

The Lady Elks returned to action Tuesday night by sweeping Haltom on the road, 25-20, 25-10, 25-12, in non-district play.

The win improved Burleson’s record to 6-2.

Smalls had 32 assists and three aces in the win. Rich finished with 15 kills and a pair of aces while Strebeck registered eight kills.

The Lady Elks open play at the Granbury Tournament today with pool play games against Euless Trinity, Seminole and El Paso.

Burleson plays at Weatherford Tuesday.

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