Kaylai Lewis said she and her Ellison teammates had a point to prove against visiting Harker Heights on Tuesday.
The Lady Eagles did just that, taking advantage of good passes and a number of Lady Knight mistakes to defeat Heights 25-16, 25-20, 25-15 and improve to 2-0 in district play at Ellison Gymnasium.
“Heights was always a team to beat us, and this year we felt like was our year,” Lewis said. “We have a really good team this year, and we work hard every day for practice, and we were excited to show ourselves and Heights that we can play them.”
Lewis did her part with a game-high six kills, but after the match, the Lady Knights (10-12, 0-2 in District 8-5A) were left feeling that most of the damage was self-inflicted.
“Ellison did a good job, they came out, handled the ball the way they needed to — our stuff just wasn’t there tonight,” Heights coach Chris Wiley said, “(It) wasn’t working. We had a bad game, and that’s what it comes down to.”
Ellison (14-8, 2-0) controlled the match from the start, jumping out to a 12-3 advantage in the opening set.
Heights scored 11 of the next 15 points to pull within 16-14, but a 5-1 spurt by the Lady Eagles helped Ellison take the set.
Junior Miranda Tapia played a big part in the Lady Eagles’ early success, notching seven of her game-high 12 assists in the first set.
“I was so excited,” Tapia said of the opening set. “We’ve got to use our hitters and let them hit.”
The second set began like a replay of the first, with Ellison darting out to an 11-14 lead before Heights closed the gap to 14-9.
Only this time, after a 7-1 run put Ellison up 21-14, the Lady Knights rallied for a second time, pulling within 24-20 late in the set.
But whatever momentum Heights had came to a screeching halt when Ellison freshman Jannia Price ended the set with a diving dig that cleared the net and fell for the final point of the set.
“We weren’t going to let it go,” Lewis said. “We were playing hard to the end.”
Heights battled early in the final set and only trailed 14-12 as Ellison had a hard time pulling away.
But the Lady Eagles had one last burst in them, scoring eight straight, including three aces by junior Bryanna Sanchez, to essentially put the match away.
“That was pretty much the movement of the ball and the setting,” Ellison coach William De Gracia said. “On the serve, we were able to see where they were standing and we were able to put the ball on target.”
Sophomore Asia Howard came up big for Ellison in addition to Lewis and Tapia, recording four kills, four blocks and 10 assists.
Junior Kathleen Janda led Heights with five kills, and senior Chante Mitchell added four kills and two blocks. Sophomore Pam Alvarado also had eight assists, while senior Kierra Parker had four as the Lady Knights are still looking for their first district win.
Ellison, meanwhile, remained unbeaten in league play, and after the match, even De Gracia admitted that Tuesday’s win was particularly special.
“We were able to keep them within good distance, so it was a good feeling,” De Gracia said. “And mainly trying to get them in three, it was good.”