Ellison ended the match the way it wanted, because the Lady Eagles began the contest as planned.

After enduring a difficult schedule during the three-day Austin Westwood Showcase over the weekend, Ellison returned home looking to put together an impressive performance against Salado.

The Lady Eagles got exactly what they hoped for.

Ellison dominated in its home opener, winning 19 of the match’s first 21 points en route to cruising to a 25-9, 25-11, 25-14 victory, and following the outcome, Lady Eagles setter Jakarta Hope admitted the one-sided start was not a fluke.

“Before every game,” the senior said, “we talk about how we need to go out and start strong.

“We don’t want to ever start down and then have to play catch-up, because that is just a lot more work. So, we are trying to maintain the mindset of treating every point like it was match point.”

Ellison head coach Sarah Stolley echoed the sentiments.

“We talk about playing with fire at every practice,” she said. “The generally awesome, playoff-contending teams that always go a couple rounds deep don’t care if they are up by 10 points or 15 points — they are trying to hurt your feelings.

“I’m trying to get that killer mentality in all my girls.”

Throughout the match, Ellison’s Lady Eagles proved they are grasping the concept.

After Ellison junior Nasiyah Smith’s kill accounted for the opening point, Hope served up seven consecutive points before Salado responded with a 2-1 run. It was not enough to halt Ellison’s momentum, though.

Ellison immediately recorded 10 unanswered points to take complete control.

In the second set, Salado (2-5) kept things closer, creating a 5-5 tie, but it would not last as Ellison closed the match with a 20-6 run.

The final set was more of the same as Ellison (7-5) allowed Salado to score consecutive points on only three occasions.

“We are becoming a very disciplined team,” Hope said, “and we don’t take any teams for granted. It doesn’t matter who is on the other side of the court, because it is all about how we play, which is fighting for every point.

“That is the mindset we are trying to keep throughout every game.”

But the Lady Eagles’ goals are loftier than merely winning matches. Ellison wants to take the next step as a program and create an ongoing atmosphere of success.

This season, the team’s hopes rest with its seniors, including Hope, libero Jaraysia Hope, outside hitter Semira Fields and defensive specialists Chantelle Cancel, Tynasia Thomas, Janai Oakley and Jasmin Espada, according to Stolley.

“Our senior leadership has to remain strong,” she said. “Those seniors have to stay tough.

“There are four of them who have been on varsity since they were sophomores, so we’re going to look to them a lot for confidence in tough moments, and they’ve been handling it really well. Our new players are really learning they can depend on them.”

TUESDAY’S HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL

  • Belton def. Gatesville 25-23, 25-19, 25-21
  • Bryan def. Harker Heights 25-15, 25-8, 25-8
  • Ellison def. Salado 25-9, 25-11, 25-14

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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