Chalon Anderson and her Killeen teammates hadn’t forgotten their district opener against Ellison, in which they fell 16-14 in the last of a five-set loss.
So, before the Lady Roos stepped on the court Tuesday, they had already decided that there’d be no repeat on their home court.
“We knew the minute they stepped into this gym that there was no way we were letting them leave our house with a win,” Anderson said.
Anderson and her teammates made good on that promise, overcoming a dominant opening set by Ellison to hold off the Lady Eagles in a 10-25, 25-13, 25-20, 27-25 win at the Killeen gym.
“I’ve got to say they won, they wanted it bad,” Ellison coach William De Gracia said. “They wanted it bad, and I’ve got to give it to them; my hat’s off to Killeen.”
The start of the match, though, hardly seemed a precursor to a Killeen victory, as the Lady Roos (10-11, 3-5 in District 8-5A) fell 25-10 in the opening set just a week after a similar slow start against Belton.
But like the Belton match, the Lady Roos responded to the adversity, scrapping “They have the heart — they don’t give up,” Killeen coach Shelly Harris said. So, you just tell them, ‘how bad do you want it?’”
The Lady Roos answered Harris’ challenge by returning the favor to Ellison, jumping out to an 11-2 advantage en route to winning the second set 25-13.
After lopsided victories by both teams to start the match, it was the Lady Roos that seized control of the match in the third set, by continuing a different approach from the start of the match.
“We were playing aggressive, but at the same time we were playing smart,” said Anderson, who had a team-high 13 kills and 12 digs, “so if we saw the hole, instead of trying to get a kill we were going to tip it right into the hole.”
“And we wanted to find their weakest passers,” added junior Sabrina Garcia.
The third set finally turned when Lady Roo sophomore Madison Sapp strung together consecutive aces for a 22-20 lead.
The Lady Roos went up 24-20 following a timeout on Sapp’s fifth ace of the match before taking the set 25-20.
Ellison seemed poised to send the match to a decisive fifth set by going up late in the fourth set, 22-19, much the way Killeen did in the third.
But the Lady Roos battled back from set point at 23-24 to tie it at 24 on a kill by Garcia, who had 12 in the match.
Killeen won the set and the match on the last of many Ellison errors as the gym erupted and disappointed Ellison players fell to the floor.
After beginning league play 4-0, the Lady Eagles (16-12) are now 4-4 in District 8-5A and just a game ahead of Killeen for fourth place in the standings.
“They put my girls in check, and you know what? Maybe that’s what my girls needed,” De Gracia said. “You can’t underestimate anybody.”
As for Killeen, the Lady Roos were simply happy to make good on their pregame promise, even after Ellison pushed them in the final set.
“That (final set) came down to who wanted it more,” Anderson said, “and like I said they were not going to come here and get a win.”