• November 24, 2014

Gatesville advances to regional quarters

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Posted: Friday, November 2, 2012 4:30 am | Updated: 10:33 am, Thu Aug 21, 2014.

BRECKENRIDGE — Ashley Cook almost felt sorry for her opponents — almost.

After rallying from an opening-set loss, Gatesville was on the verge of putting away Vernon to advance to the regional quarterfinals, and the middle blocker could see disappointment creeping into the Lady Lions’ eyes.

Despite having a soft spot in her heart for Vernon’s situation, Cook knew winning was the only option and delivered a kill that sparked a match-clinching 9-1 run, giving the Hornets a 21-25, 25-19, 25-18, 25-10 victory in the area round of the Class 3A playoffs at Breckenridge.

“We were getting in their heads, and we could see they were down, so we had to capitalize on that,” Cook said of the run late in the fourth set. “Even though it is sad for them, and we could see in their faces they were down, because nobody wants to be done, but you’ve just got to do it. It is our turn.”

The victory propels Gatesville (35-5) into the regional quarterfinals, where it awaits the winner of Friday’s match between Stephenville and Kennedale.

For much of the match against Vernon, however, it was uncertain if the Hornets would survive to play again. The Lady Lions leaped out to an 8-4 advantage in the first set before Gatesville claimed its first lead at 14-13 on Cook’s ace. But the Lady Hornets would not remain on top for long as Vernon used an 11-5 run to put itself in position to win the set.

“(Vernon) was more aggressive than we were,” Gatesville head coach Rickey Phillips said of the first set. “They were serving well, they were attacking us, and they found some open spots in our back- row defense, but that was mainly because we weren’t blocking well. And, on our side of the net, we weren’t doing the things we schemed to do. … We didn’t play real smart in parts of Game 1.”

While Phillips chalked the opening-set loss to poor play, Cook, who finished with 23 kills, five blocks and three aces, admitted the intense atmosphere played a role.

“We were too uptight at first,” the senior said. “That is what our problem was. Once we started to relax and just play Gatesville volleyball, it worked. We were all nervous (early in the match).”

After regrouping between sets, the teams alternated points and leads until Gatesville used an 8-1 run to pull away to a 25-19 victory.

The momentum carried over into the third set as the Hornets took an 8-5 lead. It would not last long, though, and Vernon was nipping at Gatesville’s heels moments later, trailing by a single point, 14-13.

Then, with Paige Chambers setting up Cook for numerous kills, the Lady Hornets won eight of the next 10 points en route to a 2-1 lead in the match. Outside hitter Lauren Nichols recorded the final point of set on one of her 13 kills to go along with 10 digs, two aces and two blocks.

With a set advantage over Vernon, the Hornets were able to finally find their rhythm and cruised to a fourth-set victory, winning 15 of the match’s final 18 points. Chambers served three aces during the last four points of the run, including one to clinch the match.

“It was crazy,” the senior setter said. “I was just trying to get it in, but it was exciting. I just wanted to pull through for my team.”

The victory sends the Hornets to the regional quarterfinals for a third consecutive year.

“Coming in, this team probably had a lot of doubters at the start of the season,” Phillips said. “Not many folks outside of our circle thought we would be three rounds in, and I’m proud as heck of them.”

By Clay Whittington

Killeen Daily Herald

BRECKENRIDGE — Ashley Cook almost felt sorry for her opponents — almost.

After rallying from an opening-set loss, Gatesville was on the verge of putting away Vernon to advance to the regional quarterfinals, and the middle blocker could see disappointment creeping into the Lady Lions’ eyes.

Despite having a soft spot in her heart for Vernon’s situation, Cook knew winning was the only option and delivered a kill that sparked a match-clinching 9-1 run, giving the Hornets a 21-25, 25-19, 25-18, 25-10 victory in the area round of the Class 3A playoffs at Breckenridge.

“We were getting in their heads, and we could see they were down, so we had to capitalize on that,” Cook said of the run late in the fourth set. “Even though it is sad for them, and we could see in their faces they were down, because nobody wants to be done, but you’ve just got to do it. It is our turn.”

The victory propels Gatesville (35-5) into the regional quarterfinals, where it awaits the winner of Friday’s match between Stephenville and Kennedale.

For much of the match against Vernon, however, it was uncertain if the Hornets would survive to play again. The Lady Lions leaped out to an 8-4 advantage in the first set before Gatesville claimed its first lead at 14-13 on Cook’s ace. But the Lady Hornets would not remain on top for long as Vernon used an 11-5 run to put itself in position to win the set.

“(Vernon) was more aggressive than we were,” Gatesville head coach Rickey Phillips said of the first set. “They were serving well, they were attacking us, and they found some open spots in our back- row defense, but that was mainly because we weren’t blocking well. And, on our side of the net, we weren’t doing the things we schemed to do. … We didn’t play real smart in parts of Game 1.”

While Phillips chalked the opening-set loss to poor play, Cook, who finished with 23 kills, five blocks and three aces, admitted the intense atmosphere played a role.

“We were too uptight at first,” the senior said. “That is what our problem was. Once we started to relax and just play Gatesville volleyball, it worked. We were all nervous (early in the match).”

After regrouping between sets, the teams alternated points and leads until Gatesville used an 8-1 run to pull away to a 25-19 victory.

The momentum carried over into the third set as the Hornets took an 8-5 lead. It would not last long, though, and Vernon was nipping at Gatesville’s heels moments later, trailing by a single point, 14-13.

Then, with Paige Chambers setting up Cook for numerous kills, the Lady Hornets won eight of the next 10 points en route to a 2-1 lead in the match. Outside hitter Lauren Nichols recorded the final point of set on one of her 13 kills to go along with 10 digs, two aces and two blocks.

With a set advantage over Vernon, the Hornets were able to finally find their rhythm and cruised to a fourth-set victory, winning 15 of the match’s final 18 points. Chambers served three aces during the last four points of the run, including one to clinch the match.

“It was crazy,” the senior setter said. “I was just trying to get it in, but it was exciting. I just wanted to pull through for my team.”

The victory sends the Hornets to the regional quarterfinals for a third consecutive year.

“Coming in, this team probably had a lot of doubters at the start of the season,” Phillips said. “Not many folks outside of our circle thought we would be three rounds in, and I’m proud as heck of them.”

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