After a hotly contested 1½ sets at Ellison, miscues and Waco Midway’s net dominance doomed the Lady Eagles to a three-set defeat.
“That’s one of the toughest teams out in district right now,” said Ellison coach William De Gracia. “That was tough. We were playing toe to toe with them. We were playing with them the first two sets.”
While Midway errors allowed the Lady Eagles to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the third set, the Lady Panthers charged on a 10-0 run en route to a 13-point third-set victory.
“We knew they needed a win, and I thought they played a very good first set,” said Midway coach Janet Angell. “We were a little lethargic.”
Although Midway led for only 42 percent of the match, the Lady Panthers (21-21, 11-1 District 8-5A) toppled Ellison (19-13, 7-5) by a score of 25-21, 25-16, 25-12.
A victory would have clinched a playoff berth for Ellison because Killeen lost in Copperas Cove. The good news for the Lady Eagles, with two matches remaining, is the next Killeen loss or Ellison victory puts them in the postseason.
The Pantherettes’ Allison Jones opened the match with consecutive kills from behind the net, before teammate Kelsey Slechta notched an ace.
Kills by Hannah Zly and Bailey Wade helped the Lady Eagles surge from a 6-2 deficit to an 8-8 tie.
After a 12-all tie in the first set, Midway steadily widened its lead behind two Samantha Sanders kills, one Allye Beth Deaton kill and four Jones kills.
“(Jones) has been battling a little tendonitis in her shoulder,” Angell said. “She answered tonight feeling pretty good, it looks like.”
Ellison burst to a 7-3 lead in the second set, following two Asia Howard kills and a Zly ace.
But a Lady Eagle push and three consecutive kills from Sanders, Christy Carruth and Mattie Ross tied the match at 7.
After a 10-10 tie, Midway went on a 5-1 run, picking up kills from Deaton and Avery Rhodes.
Along with four Ellison errors, kills from Carruth and Sanders helped the Pantherettes finish the second set on a 7-1 run.
“We picked up the blocking game, and our serve-receive stayed solid and eventually we came on today, but I give Ellison some kudos,” Angell said. “We just kept chipping away at them.”
Kills from Lady Eagles Kaeleana Hattix-Covington, Amanda Glover and Brianna Gray were not enough to stave off the Lady Panthers, who rolled on runs of 10-0 and 5-0 in the clinching set.
The Lady Eagles committed nine errors and one lift in the closing set.
For Midway, Slechta had six aces and 17 assists, Jones added 13 kills and Deaton had 12 digs.
For Ellison, Howard and Miranda Tapia each had 11 assists, Gray added six kills and Glover dug 13 attacks.
“We just got to come back and minimize those mistakes we made in the last set,” De Gracia said. “We have the girls to be in the playoffs, so we’re going to try to hold onto it. And we’re going to play to keep it, not play on the safe side.”