GATESVILLE — On Saturday, the Gatesville Hornets put themselves in position to win their home volleyball tournament.
After defeating Llano, Mexia and Shoemaker on Thursday at the Gatesville Invitational, the Black and Gold hammered Temple on Saturday afternoon to set up a showdown with Rogers in the title game.
Gatesville had not won its home tournament since 2012.
“Tonight needs to be the night we stop that,” Hornets head coach Rickey Phillips said after their win over Temple. “Our goal coming in tonight was to be the most aggressive team in every phase, and I thought — with the exception of a few plays in game two early — we were.”
Just before press time, the Hornets completed a 25-18, 25-15 sweep of Rogers for the championship.
Salado, which won this very tournament a year ago, reached the semifinals, where it was topped by Rogers 2-0.
Despite the loss, Salado head coach Heather Shannon said she told the girls not to lament their loss, but to focus on the third-place match against Temple.
“Coming into today, we knew we were going to play Rogers,” Shannon said. “The girls were excited, things just didn’t go our way. We had our opportunities there in the second set but just didn’t capitalize on it.
“Going into this next one, I told the girls we won this tournament last year, so we need to have the mindset that we are going to be the third-place team. Fourth place is not an option.”
Salado finished on a high note. After dropping the first set to Temple, it rallied to win sets two and three to secure third place.
Saturday turned into a mini-District 8 preview for area 6A squads. Each of Killeen High, Shoemaker, Ellison and Belton ended up battling one another in the fifth-place bracket.
Ellison ended up grabbing fifth with wins over Shoemaker and Killeen.
Ellison topped Troy to open the tournament before falling to Rogers. After defeating Shoemaker and Killeen on Saturday, it finished play 3-1 in four games played.
“It was like a little district reunion,” Lady Eagles head coach Sarah Stolley said. “I think it was great. I know a lot of coaches don’t like to play district teams too early, but I think it creates kind of a sense of calm going into district. You kind of know what to expect now.”
Despite not playing very strong against Rogers, Stolley said she was pleased with her team’s energy and how they finished the tournament.
Killeen ended the tournament 2-2 with wins over Belton and Jarrell. They were sent to the fifth-place bracket after falling to Temple, who reached the semifinals.
After falling to Ellison, Lady Kangaroos head coach Joanne Knowles said she was happy with how the team played overall.
“There are small things we have time to fix before district,” she said. “Once we take care of those things, I think we’ll be all right.
“I was proud of how they played against Belton. Last year at this time, we struggled finishing matches. We finished today against Belton.”
Shoemaker went 1-3 overall. Its lone victory was the tournament opener against Marble Falls, but head coach Merdith Shaw-Moore said both she and the Lady Grey Wolves grew at Gatesville.
“We’re gonna be OK,” Shaw-Moore said. “I never see us as losing, I see us as learning from a loss. We never get too high when we win, and we never get too low when we lose.
“The thing I stressed to them today was you can’t make the same mistake twice. We will see these teams again. We are going to take it for what it’s worth and move forward.”
Belton finished play at 2-2, and Florence, one of the smaller schools that competed at Gatesville, went 1-3.