GATESVILLE — Gatesville’s record is tarnished.
The Hornets suffered their first defeat of the season Saturday, when Lago Vista — the No. 2 team in the Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 2A poll — defeated them in straight sets, winning the Gatesville Tournament in the process.
While the loss drops the Hornets’ record to 13-1, the experience allows the team an opportunity to do some honest self-examination, according to head coach Rickey Phillips.
“We saw some things that we’ve got to get better at,” he said. “That’s why you play the good teams. You want to see where your weaknesses are, so when the games count the most down the line, in district and, hopefully, the postseason, you are prepared because you’ve played teams like that before.
“I think it is one of those deals that will come in handy here, and maybe in November.”
One lesson Lago Vista taught the Hornets in the 25-11, 25-23 loss was the importance of getting off to a strong start.
The Vikings jumped out to a 9-3 advantage in the opening set, using its power up front to overwhelm the smaller Hornets. The lead ballooned to double digits, 16-6, before Gatesville began to regain its composure, but it was too late.
In the second set, the Hornets rebounded, going back and forth with undefeated Lago Vista (14-0) until the Vikings used a 4-0 run to clinch the victory and the tournament championship.
“In that first game, we didn’t play with a lot of confidence at the net, and it showed,” Phillips said. “In the second game, we did. I’m hoping we can take from that, and I think our seniors are doing a good job of leading us, and they are going to make sure we stay up.”
The Hornets had the same problem in the semifinals as well.
Earlier against China Spring, Gatesville lost the first set 25-20 before turning things around and winning the next two sets by identical 25-10 scores.
“I hope it is not a cycle where we are coming out not prepared,” Phillips said. “We’ve got to get a good start every time and get that confidence factor going.”
Gatesville, however, was not the only team to produce a strong showing at the tournament.
After losing its opening game Thursday, Ellison beat its next three opponents to finish third overall.
The Lady Eagles defeated Hamilton 25-12, 25-17 and Waco Reicher 25-23, 27-29, 25-20 on Saturday.
While it was not the championship Ellison head coach William De Gracia hoped for, he is excited about the desire his team displayed.
“They are tough girls,” De Gracia said. “That is something we didn’t have in the past is girls that are mentally tough. In previous years, in a situation like this, we would have lost. We would have crumbled; there is no doubt about it.
“Now, I have that. We have to tweak some little stuff skill-wise to make ourselves better, but we have a team to compete with anybody.”
Belton finished fifth overall, defeating Shoemaker 25-16, 22-25, 25-17 before decidedly beating Copperas Cove’s junior varsity team 25-8, 25-15.
The Lady Tigers still have a long way to go before developing into the team head coach Stacy Meyers desires, but she is pleased with the performance in the 20-team tournament.
“For this team, this year, right now, it’s awesome,” Meyers said. “We are really excited. Obviously, we’d like to be in the top four, but we are excited about where we are.”
En route to the fifth-place match, the Lady Bulldawgs beat Salado 25-23, 20-25, 25-16. The loss sent Salado into a match against Shoemaker that the Lady Eagles won 25-23, 25-17.
Lampasas played Central Texas Christian in its opening match Saturday and won 25-21, 25-19 before beating Dublin in straight sets, 25-17, 25-18. Florence lost its only match of the day 25-13, 25-14 to Rogers.