HARKER HEIGHTS — Sarah Stolley had to remind her team of its potential.
In its return to District 12-6A competition, Ellison found itself playing from behind all match at Harker Heights, losing the first and third sets before trailing 19-14 in a must-win fourth set.
So, when the Lady Eagles forced a fifth set, Ellison’s head coach needed to deliver a message.
“I pulled up the scores and told the girls, ‘Hey, remember we just beat them 25-10,’” Stolley said, “‘and that was just a couple minutes ago.’
“So, I knew it could be done, but we just had to stick to what we do and adhere to our core fundamentals. We had to stay together.”
And the Lady Eagles did.
Ellison won six of the final set’s first nine points and never relinquished control, winning 20-25, 25-10, 24-26, 28-26, 15-8 to remain undefeated in district through two matches.
Like Stolley, Lady Eagles senior Chyra Thompson believes team unity was key to the outcome.
“We started off really
slow,” the middle blocker said, “but we just fought through. We knew what we had to do, and we did it.
“We were able to keep our energy up and stay together. It was all due to us playing as one.”
Early on, however, the match appeared destined for a different direction.
Making its district debut, the Lady Knights never trailed in the opening set, closing with an 8-4 outburst to capture the early momentum.
The second set was the exact opposite, though, as Ellison dominated the set outside of allowing four unanswered points near the middle of play.
While it was only one set, it was meaningful.
“It was really important to win that set like we did,” Thompson said. “We’ve got to be able to bounce back.”
Harker Heights also proved capable of responding, going back and forth throughout the third set before narrowly escaping with a win.
The scenario repeated itself in the ensuing set as the squads exchanged runs until senior Diamond Woods recorded the final point for Ellison.
But the Lady Eagles did not allow the fifth set to be so tightly contended, jumping out to a 6-3 lead before cruising to victory.
Offensively, Ellison hitters Thompson, Nasiyah Smith, Adelia Puni and Woods thrived off junior setter Alexis Barcinas’ assists, and the Lady Eagles will need the production to continue Friday, when they travel to Belton.
The Lady Knights have an equally daunting challenge as they look to rebound with a home match against Copperas Cove.
While the outcome was disappointing, Harker Heights head coach Alina Wilder believes her players will build on the performance.
“This gave us the validation that we have really come a long way as a team,” she said. “This is going to fuel us, because we’re hungry.
“A loss like this is going to drive us.”
TUESDAY'S 12-6A VOLLEYBALL
- Belton def. Temple 20-25, 25-13, 26-24, 25-22
- Copperas Cove def. Waco 25-9, 25-8, 25-5
- Ellison def. Harker Heights 20-25, 25-10, 24-26, 28-26, 15-8.
- Shoemaker def. Killeen