By James Harper

Killeen Daily Herald

Kortni Taylor has grown a lot since last season.

The Ellison Lady Eagles’ senior stands at 5’4’’ – two inches more than last year’s recorded height of 5’2’’.

But, the height is not the only way she has grown.

“I don’t let my height get to me anymore.” Taylor said. “I have the highest vertical on the team and sometimes I get up there bigger than the big girls. (They) don’t think I’m intimidating until I hit (the ball) on you.”

She proved it Tuesday night as she had 16 kills and the Lady Eagles beat the Belton Lady Tigers in five sets — 21-25, 25-21, 9-25, 25-22 and 15-11.

“It’s gut check, it’s the people who want it the most,” Taylor said. “We have to move on from those losses and say, ‘OK, it’s a new game, a fresh start’,” Taylor said. “We just have to focus on this game and get the points.”

The fresh start was needed as Ellison fell behind two games to one — Game 3 a blow out for Belton. The Lady Tigers (19-9, 1-1 8-5A) led 8-5 when they went on a 16-4 run that cemented the game.

“Our intensity varies over games and in that third game we had no intensity but when we play like a team and play together nobody can stop us,” said Malaysia Hope who led all players with 35 assists. “People said that we didn’t have the heart to want to win and it’s time to click and prove everybody wrong.”

The Lady Eagles (12-12, 1-1 8-5A) senior started the fourth game by leading her team to three straight points – one ace and another was an assist to Taylor. The early lead became a 15-15 tie that was broken by another Hope-to-Taylor combination. That was followed by an ace from Ellison senior Savannah Loris to put her team up 17-15. The two teams traded scores until Hope found Taylor for the game winner.

“We made a couple crucial mistakes at the wrong time that changed the momentum of the game,” said Belton head coach Stacey Meyers. “We gave away a free point early in the game and giving away points will never let you win.”

Game 5 started with more free points for Ellison and Hope was at the center of it. She started the game like the fourth, with three straight points for the Lady Eagles.

Hope then found Taylor for back-to-back kills that made it 5-2 in favor of Ellison.

Belton charged back and tied the game at 11-11, but the final connection of the night for Hope and Taylor was the first of four straight points that ended the game in favor of the Lady Eagles.

Senior Kaitlyn Shearer added 15 kills to go with six blocks for Ellison.

“For us to do (well) we gotta jump on the lead and put the pressure (on the other team) and make them make mistakes,” said Ellison coach William De Gracia. “I’m loving my girls right now because they come out and they fight. We hit and we didn’t play scared.”

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