SALADO — The shrill screams echoed throughout the Salado gym.
With their coach feeling a little under the weather, the host Lady Eagles followed each point scored with eruptions of joyful yells as their lead multiplied from 6-1 to 19-3.
Devising a plan in the huddle before the third game Tuesday against Rosebud-Lott, each girl was in competition to provide the loudest and most high-pitched scream.
“I had shared with them that I wasn’t feeling so good, and they said, ‘We were just talking about having a contest to see who can be the most enthusiastic and positive and bring the most energy to the floor,’” said Salado coach Rachel Lee.
The Lady Eagles’ energy was felt inside and outside the gym Tuesday as Salado dispatched visiting Rosebud-Lott 25-11, 25-15, 25-7 in just under an hour.
“We wanted to practice being energetic every single point and having that energy out there,” said senior setter Hanah Perkins.
The screaming certainly had its effect in Game 3 as Salado (16-14, 6-2 22-2A) responded from a service error on the opening point to score on 15 of the next 16 points including eight straight with senior Madi DePriest at the line for a 15-2 lead.
“They had a good time doing it. It certainly helped me feeling the way I was feeling and it was great for them to take over that game,” Lee said of the screaming.
Added Perkins: “We’re not going to play down to anybody’s level, we’re going to play as hard as we can and as competitive as we can every game no matter what.”
The advantage — and the screams — only seemed to grow bigger as the Lady Cougars had five errors in a row to give the Lady Eagles a commanding 20-4 lead before sophomore middle blocker Taylor Atwood closed out a 5-3 scoring run with a dominating kill to center court.
“I was just trying to give it all I have and step up because we don’t have Sarah (Toler), and trying to practice for the harder games that we’ll have,” Atwood said.
With leading hitter Sarah Toler on the bench preparing for surgery today, Salado had five hitters with at least 13 kills. Junior outside hitter Shyenne Hicks leading the way with 19 and Atwood contributing 14 and four blocks.
“Today especially it was different because — it’s not a secret — Sarah’s our go-to girl, and since we don’t have her there I was kinda looking more at what my options were,” said Perkins, who added 27 assists, “and just trying to get everybody a chance to show other schools that there’s something to be scared of.”
Salado showed plenty in the first two games as last-place Rosebud-Lott didn’t put together two consecutive serves in Game 1 until it was already trailing 13-6.
Following an out-of-bounds hit, Salado senior Jenna Franz and DePriest had back-to-back kills to start an 8-2 scoring run and pull away 21-10.
Game 2 was a little closer, at least early, as the Lady Cougars pulled within 4-3 thanks to three Lady Eagles errors. But with an ace from Hicks, Salado rolled off a 13-2 run, including seven straight service points from senior Katie Kunz, for an 18-5 advantage.
“That was the plan coming into it, start strong and finish strong, and be without Sarah and have others doing the job that we’ve practiced them doing,” Lee said.