Down to the final two points, the Ellison Lady Eagles found a way to win.
And, the Lady Eagles, down to their final two games, need to keep winning.
Points got away from them and Shoemaker played them to the wire in each game, but the Lady Eagles won the only points that mattered Tuesday for a 27-25, 25-22, 25-23 sweep of the Lady Grey Wolves at Shoemaker High School.
“We go toe-to-toe, we give up a lead and we come back and we actually come and we finish the last two points. That’s because we do want it,” said Ellison coach William De Gracia. “Last year, it was hard for us to finish, now we’re starting to finish. ... We made our mistakes, but we kept it close and we finished it up.”
Ellison (16-18, 5-7 8-5A) hosts Temple on Friday and plays at Waco Midway in a week and needs to win both to force a play-in match for the District 8-5A fourth-place playoff seed. Midway, which beat playoff-bound Belton 25-21, 25-21, 25-17 on Tuesday, is still two games ahead of the Lady Eagles with two to play. Midway (18-23, 7-5) hosts Killeen on Friday.
“Our coach really wants us to go to playoffs and so do we. We all have the heart for it, we just have to keep pushing and beat these next (two) teams, for sure, to have a chance,” said Ellison senior Kortni Taylor, who led the Lady Eagles with 12 kills.
Kaitlyn Shearer had nine kills, eight digs, five blocks and a pair of aces. Christen Richardson had 10 digs, Malaysia Hope had 21 assists and Miranda Tapia had 11 assists.
Tearra Roberson led Shoemaker (12-18, 1-11) with 13 kills, six blocks, six digs and two aces. Anessa Pitts had 10 assists and Nayia Porell had 16 digs.
But the Lady Grey Wolves couldn’t get the final two points they needed.
“We’ve just got to keep working hard, keep pushing,” said Shoemaker coach Merdith Shaw-Moore said of her team getting over that hump. “It’s like tug of war: you keep pulling, keep pulling, keep pulling and eventually, everything will shift over in your favor.”
Unlike the first district meeting between the two, which Ellison won 25-16, 25-17, 25-17, the Lady Grey Wolves were right there with the playoff hopefuls at the end, mostly because of the long string of points Ellison gave to Shoemaker.
“We went through a lot of mistakes,” De Gracia said. “That’s been our main problem — we make the mistakes. ... I’m glad they finished, but we need to clean up the mistakes.”
The Lady Eagles led by as much as 13-8 in Game 1, but committed six errors in the next seven points and a kill by Roberson gave the Lady Grey Wolves a 16-15 lead.
Shearer scored on back-to-back aces for a 23-22 lead. The two teams went back and forth, trading errors and kills, until Bailey Wade’s unassisted kill, following a missed Shoemaker serve, finally put an end to the first set.
The Lady Grey Wolves led 4-1 early in Game 2 and 14-11 later after another string of Ellison errors, but Shearer had two assists and a kill in a 9-3 run that gave the Lady Eagles a 19-18 lead. After falling behind 23-20, Shoemaker pulled to within 23-22, but committed a four-hit foul before another unassisted Wade kill gave Ellison a 2-0 lead.
Ellison then looked to run away with the sweep after jumping out to a 14-7 lead, but Kierra Parker scored on block and assisted a Roberson kill to give Shoemaker some momentum; And send the Lady Eagles into another tailspin.
Shoemaker scored nine of the next 14 points to pull within 19-18 on Maddi Woodard’s kill.
Taylor had two kills, but Ellison also committed three errors to knot the game at 23 when Shearer closed out the match with a kill and a block.
“They didn’t just come in here and take anything. It was a hard-fought match,” Shaw-Moore said. “They played their butts off and I give Ellison credit; We both came in here scratching.”