LAMPASAS — Gatesville is learning nothing comes easy in District 8-3A.
On Friday, the then-No. 6 Hornets lost their district opener at home to Liberty Hill in four sets, snapping a five-match win streak and nearly knocking Gatesville out of the top 25.
Against Lampasas on Tuesday, the Hornets let their guard down after winning the first two sets and received a scare as the Lady Badgers rebounded from a eight-point deficit to win the third set.
However, Gatesville managed to rediscover its poise and held on for a 25-13, 25-10, 21-25, 25-12 victory.
“I told my kids before we started and kept reminding them that all 10 district games are going to be a battle,” said Gatesville head coach Rickey Phillips. “It doesn’t matter where you play or who you play, you better expect them to play their best, and you better hope we bring ours. So far, it has held up true.”
For a stretch in the third set, the Lady Badgers, who have just one home victory this season, appeared poised to pull off an upset.
Trailing 15-7, Lampasas used a pair of 8-0 runs to win 16 of the next 19 points and prevent being swept in straight sets. With senior Jenna Jenkins serving and Maygen Cauthen recording a pair of kills, the Lady Badgers tied the set at 15-15 before giving up three consecutive points to Gatesville. But the trio of points did not detour Lampasas as it earned its first lead of the match at 18-17 en route to taking the set.
“During my last timeout, I said, ‘Girls, you’ve just got to have fun,’” said Lampasas head coach Kecia Davis. “If they don’t have fun then the things I want them to do, they won’t be able to do because they aren’t certain of their own skills.”
Lampasas’ good times carried over into the fourth set as it held an early 5-4 lead punctuated by Madi Phillips’ block, but Gatesville (26-4, 1-1) responded with four unanswered points and pushed its lead to 14-10 before using a 11-2 outburst to clinch the match and its first district victory.
“We thought it was over,” Phillips said of the third set, “but coach Davis’ teams are never done. They are not done until that last ball goes to the floor. We thought we had it over after two games and kind of went to sleep a little bit.”
Senior middle blocker Ashley Cook led the Hornets with 22 kills to go along with five blocks and three aces, while teammate Kayla McGiboney finished with nine kills and nine blocks. Lauren Nichols added a dozen kills, including the match’s final point, and 10 digs.
Jenkins finished with 14 digs, eight assists, six kills and two aces, while Phillips anchored the Lady Badgers defensively, producing four solo blocks.
Although the Hornets, ranked 24th in the current Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 3A poll, pulled out the win, Phillips hopes the loss to Liberty Hill combined with the resiliency displayed by Lampasas (8-15, 0-2) will deliver a message to his players that no match can be taken lightly for the remainder of the season.
“If (we haven’t learned by now), then we are not the smartest chicks in the world,” Phillips said.
As for Lampasas, Davis believes her team can use the showing as a building block heading into Brownwood on Friday.
“We are hoping to come back with our first district win,” the coach said. “(A win) would be huge. Being such a young team and having just one player with varsity experience, that would be just huge for us.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com