• Centennial senior Hannah Walker goes up for an attack as Burleson sophomore Mia Smalls (6) and Maddie Gregory (7) put up a block Tuesday night during the Lady ELks’ sweep of the Lady Spartans in District 5-5A play at Centeninal. BURLESON STAR/ANGELIQUE HAYS

Lady Elks sweep Lady Spartans

Rivalry games are always difficult.

Tuesday night’s volleyball match between Burleson and Centennial was no exception.

Playing at home, Centennial seemed to come out flat while Burleson was just the opposite.

The Lady Elks took the match with a sweep to collect their first District 5-5A victory but it wasn’t an easy task.

Burleson won the first game, 25-15, then eked out a 29-27 win in game two and finished off the match, 25-16.

“I think we played a really good game,” Burleson coach D’Anna Newton said. “We’ve had to have some movement in our positions and we responded well to that. The second game Centennial went on a run but we were able to fight back and a do a good job.”

The win moved Burleson to 1-1 in district play and 18-9 overall. Centennial (7-16, 0-2) is still seeking its first district win. The Lady Elks now have a two-game winning streak over their crosstown rivals.

As has been the case most of the season, the Lady Elks top player was outside hitter Emily Rich. The sophomore finished the match with 17 kills and three aces.

Rich helped end the first game with a pair of big kills that moved the Lady Elks to within a point of a win at 24-15. Freshman libero Emma Dustin served Burleson out to the win on the next point.

“Emily is so solid for us,” Newton said. “We feed her the ball as much as we can and she does a great job putting the ball away.”

In the first game, the Lady Elks used small bursts of points, mostly three at a time to get past Centennial. Burleson leaped out to a 4-0 lead and Centennial never got closer than two points in the game.

Centennial showed heart in the second game and made things interesting.

Trailing 16-9 the senior trio of Hannah Walker, Avery Tomme, and Zassmine Birdwell led a 6-0 run that got the Lady Spartans to within 16-15.

Tomme served Centennial to six points, Walker had two kills, Birdwell added another and the pair combined for a block that led to a point.

During the run, Burleson was forced to take its first timeout of the match.

Things seesawed from there with the game ending up tied at 22-22.

Each time Burleson got to game point, Centennial had an answer but the Lady Spartans could never force a game point situation themselves.

The Lady Elks were able to take the game, 29-27, thanks to a Centennial hitting error and a block by middle blocker Emily White.

Centennial came out in the third game and put the Lady Elks on their heels getting out to a 6-3 lead behind three kills by senior outside hitter Molly McCalla.

The Lady Spartans led 10-9 before the Lady Elks roared back and took control.

Burleson outscored Centennial, 15-7, to complete the sweep thanks in part to the play of junior middle blocker Maddie Gregory, who had two of her five kills during the run.

“Maddie’s not very tall, so when she gets up there and blocks I think people are surprised,” Newton said. “She and Emily Rich on the front row are a very good combination. I’m excited each night to see what they can do.”

Rich knocked down a pair of kills to end the match and help the Lady Elks erase the memories of a tough, 23-25, 25-13, 16-25, 26-24, 15-9 district-opening loss at Granbury Friday night.

“This was a perfect game to play after losing at Granbury,” Newton said. “Now we get to go home and hopefully we can take care of business on Friday.”

The Lady Elks play their next two district matches at home facing Mansfield Timberview Friday and Crowley on Tuesday.
Centennial, lost to Mansfield Legacy 25-16, 25-14, 25-10 Friday night.

The Lady Spartans play at Granbury Friday and travel to Everman Tuesday night.

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