GATESVILLE — Ellison was moving at full speed en route to sweeping the competition on the first day of the Gatesville Invitational on Thursday.

For the Lady Eagles, the name of the game is speed.

“We’ve been working on that at practice,” Ellison head coach Sarah Stolley said. “Being up-tempo just increases everything.”

Being undersized, speeding up the pace of the game helps the Lady Eagles.

“It’s going to help them jump higher, and it’s going to help them swing stronger,” Stolley noted. “That’s the pace we’re going to play in district, so why not prepare for that speed now?”

Ellison faced McGregor in the first match of the day and took an early 7-1 lead before the Lady Bulldogs called a timeout to regroup.

Once the Lady Eagles found a comfortable tempo, they took off.

Jaraysia Hope had four diving saves for Ellison while Diamond Wood and McKenzie Tysor accounted for blocks at the net in route to a 25-5 victory over McGregor in the first set.

“We’ve been working really hard in the offseason,” said Hope. “We’ve been working out together over the summer, so I know if we win the tournament, it will all be worth it.”

While the ultimate goal is to walk away with the championship, the Lady Eagles are using every game this weekend to prepare for their

district run that starts next week.

“The goal is to come out of here just a little tighter as a team and executing a little bit better,” Stolley said.

Ellison took the second set against McGregor 25-17.

The Lady Eagles advanced to face Austin St. Michaels, and it was a close game the entire first set as the Crusaders and Lady Eagles tied 16 times before Ellison pulled out a late 29-27 victory.

Self-imposed errors can explain why the match up was so close.

“That’s something we’ve been working on as a team,” Stolley said, “not starting off slow or in a hole.

“I trust that they can get themselves out of a hole, but I rather not get us in that position in the first place.”

Ellison dug itself out of a hole in first set but the second set was a different story.

The Lady Eagles caught up three times in the second set but errors, including serves into the net, added up as Ellison lost 25-16, but Ellison won the third set 25-23.

Ellison wrapped up the first day of competition beating Leander Glenn 25-22, 25-15.

Also competing were Killeen, Lampasas, Salado and host Gatesville.

The Hornets were confident heading into their first match against the Lady Badgers.

“We need to go play like we can and take care of business,” said Gatesville head coach Rickey Phillips. “We should be 3-0 after today, no questions asked.

“We’re the best team in our bracket, and we should play like that.”

Lampasas head coach Denise Ponder wanted to use this weekend to give her young team more reps before heading into district play.

“Our defense is pretty solid, they’re well experienced,” Ponder noted. “Now we’re just working on communicating.”

While the Lady Badgers took an early lead in both sets, the Hornets came back both times to win 25-17, 25-18.

Gatesville moved on and beat Llano (25-22, 18-25, 25-20). The victory advanced the Hornets to face Groesbeck.

Salado took an early tournament loss against Rogers (25-19, 25-13).

Killeen entered the tournament with one goal: Play as a unit.

“I don’t care about the score, I don’t care about the sets,” said head coach Crystal Bennett. “I just want them to believe in themselves and play as hard as they can.”

The Lady Roos did just that as they took down Dublin 25-13, 25-17 in their first match.

fcardenas@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7562

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