The path ahead of the Ellison Lady Eagles is a daunting one.
They took their first step Tuesday with a closely contested 27-25, 25-23, 25-17 sweep of rival Killeen that snapped the Lady Eagles’ four-match losing streak. Now, they only have to win their final four matches to contend for a playoff berth.
“The win feels good, but at the same time, it’s bittersweet because we didn’t play as good as we should,” said Ellison senior setter Malaysia Hope. “By winning, I hope it motivates everybody to want to win and want to go to playoffs because we need heart in order to beat some of these teams.”
Kaitlyn Shearer led the Lady Eagles (15-17, 4-6 8-5A) with 10 kills, Hope had 43 assists and Amanda Glover had 13 digs for Ellison, which hosts Harker Heights on Friday and bookends road games at Shoemaker and Waco Midway around a home game against Temple to close out the season.
“We needed that. We needed to work through our emotions. That was the main thing,” said Ellison coach William De Gracia. “Work through some of the mistakes. We had to change our rotation a little bit, but the good thing is they worked through it. ... It made me nervous, but it made me feel good that they kept their cool.”
De Gracia didn’t specify why the rotation change was necessary, but the Lady Eagles’ offense, at times, looked out of sync.
“It was a lot of rotation changing, and I think we’re just not comfortable with that (yet) and we’re still adjusting,” said Ellison senior middle blocker Kaitlyn Shearer.
Alicia Brown and Tiare Dugger each had seven kills to lead Killeen (18-26, 1-9 8-5A), which was mathematically eliminated from making the playoffs, snapping a two-year postseason streak. Esha Atkins had 15 assists, Chalon Anderson had nine digs and Johlicia Williams had 2½ blocks in the Lady Roos’ sixth straight loss.
“We missed serves at crucial points and we had a lack of communication,” said Killeen coach Shelly Harris.
The Lady Roos rallied from a six-point deficit in Game 1 to tie the game at 21 on a Brown kill. Chalon Anderson and Dominique Pettway each missed serves after that, including one at 23-23, and Killeen committed back-to-back errors with the game tied at 25 to give Ellison the win.
Back-to-back errors also cost Killeen Game 2 in the end, including another missed serve with the game again tied at 23. The Lady Roos then committed a string of six straight errors at the end of Game 3 to help the Lady Eagles with the sweep.
“We started communicating and we started off strong and then we started to let it slip through our fingers,” Hope said. “We’re kind of used to playing catch-up, so it was kind of easy to come back.”