Lady Spartans rally past Lady Elks
Staring a loss to crosstown rival Burleson in the face Tuesday night, Centennial volleyball coach Jessica Ransom had one question for her team.
‘How bad do you want it?” asked the first-year coach during a break in play.
The Lady Spartans proved they wanted a win badly as they roared back, winning the final two sets to defeat the Lady Elks, 25-13, 22-25, 20-25, 25-23, 15-10, in a District 9-5A match at Burleson.
The victory kept the Lady Spartans (16-14, 4-0) tied for first place with Granbury and extended their winning streak over Burleson to four matches. The Lady Elks (11-18, 3-1) lost their first district match and fell into a third place tie with Cleburne.
“They gave it their all,” Burleson coach D’Anna Newton said. “I’m proud of them and the way they played. We just fell short in the end. We still have another shot at them and we will just keep working hard. We have to focus more on the little things and just find a way to finish.”
Down two sets to one, Centennial turned to its seniors Tuesday night and they answered the call. Middle blockers Marissa Thompson (13 kills) and Laken Cash (12 kills) were not about to let the Lady Elks register a win.
“We weren’t going to let them take it from us,” Thompson said. “It was a good team effort and a big win to beat them in their house. We were all doing what we needed to do and finally got into a groove (in the last two sets). We were feeding off our crowd.”
Cash took over the fifth set and drove the Lady Spartans to win with her play at the net.
“Our go-to player at the end was Marissa (Thompson),” Ransom said. “We were giving her the ball and she was finding a way to kill it every single time.”
Seniors Carrissa Pauda and Jeanette McGrath also played important roles. Pauda, an outside hitter, had eight kills and teamed with Thompson for a handful of blocks while McGrath served well and had three aces. Also turning in aces for Centennial were Maddie Skaggs (two) and Casey Hendrixson (two).
“We work on aggressive serving in practice and varying our serves so it is not the same every time,” Ransom said. “I think that showed in the match. The girls were able to place the ball where I was asking them to. It’s nice as a coach to see the things we worked on in practice actually happen in a match.”
After losing the first set, Burleson seemed to draw energy from the home crowd and began to play better midway through the second set. Trailing, 21-16, the Lady Elks outscored their rivals, 9-1, to take the second set.
Kirstie Gonderman ran off four unanswered service points and Hope Hodges followed with three service points for the win.
Baliegh Myers had two of her seven kills during the run while Meredith Augsburger turned in two kills, including a setter’s kill.
In the third set, Burleson leapt out to a 9-4 lead behind five consecutive service points from Myers. After Centennial tied things up at 13-13, Hodges nailed three straight aces to build momentum and give the Lady Elks a 16-13 lead.
Centennial never tied the set up the rest of the way as Hodges tallied two of her eight kills late for the win.
The victory put Burleson up 2-1 in the match and Ransom had a simple explanation for the Lady Elks lead.
“They wanted it a little bit more than we did at that point,” Ransom said. “We didn’t put as many balls away and that made the difference in those sets.”
Centennial plays Friday night at Crowley and Tuesday hosts Granbury. The Lady Elks host Granbury Friday night and play Tuesday at Cleburne.