By Tony Altobelli
Killeen Daily Herald
Prior to the start of the District 16-4A, it was a general consensus that Hewitt Midway opened as the team to beat with the other five teams scrapping for the other top-two slots.
After three matches, it appears Brownwood has landed the first punch.
With solid play on both sides of the net, the Lady Lions swept past Killeen 25-14, 28-26, 25-16 on Tuesday, improving to 2-1 in district (19-11 overall).
The Lady Lions showed the offensive depth of a playoff contending team with Sarah Raschke leading the way with 11 kills. Katie Chastain added nine kills, Ashley Ledlow chipped in seven kills and Eric Evans had six kills.
Brownwood's aggressiveness came out early in Game 1. With a 6-5 lead, Brownwood opened it up with a 9-0 run, led by two kills from Chastain and Ledlow.
Killeen (11-10, 1-2) got as close as seven, but could not overcome the consistent play of the Lady Lions.
The Lady Roos upped their defensive intensity and hung tough with Brownwood in Game 2 as both teams looked for any type of scoring run. Amber Girdy and Jayna Murray, who each finished with 14 digs, sparked Killeen's inspired play as both teams battled to a 15-15 tie.
Brownwood appeared to grab the upper hand with a 6-1 run to take a 21-16 lead, but the Roos, who have come back from numerous deficits all season long, mustered up a quality comeback with a 7-2 run to tie the game at 23.
Killeen fought off two game points and when the combination of Lacee Jacobs and Ashley Shepard blocked a Brownwood return, the Lady Roos held a 26-25 lead.
But the Lady Lions answered back. A kill by Evans, a kill by Ledlow and a service ace by Evans highlighted a 3-0 run to end the game and give Brownwood a commanding two-game lead.
The Lady Lions never looked back as they turned up the offensive intensity and grabbed a 17-6 lead in Game 3, too much to overcome for Killeen.
Killeen's offense, led by three kills from Keandra Pickett, got some good shots off at the Lady Lion defense, but key digs by several players negated any type of long-team scoring run.
Never giving up, the Lady Roos battled to the end and got to within eight (24-16), but the rally and the match came to an end when a Killeen player grazed the net on an attempted return.
Jacobs posted three blocks and Shepard added five assists for Killeen, which hosts Ellison on Friday night beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Contact Tony Altobelli at firstname.lastname@example.org