By Nick Talbot
Killeen Daily Herald
FLORENCE - It was all about the serve.
Kasey Button and Sydney Briggs combined to serve 20 straight points as the Florence Lady Buffs volleyball team defeated Buckholts 25-10, 25-7 to win the consolation bracket Saturday at its host tournament at Florence High.
First Briggs served eight straight to take the Lady Buffs from a 15-8 advantage to a 24-9 lead in Game 1. Then, leading 6-1 in Game 2, Button served 12 straight points to put the Lady Buffs up 18-1 on the Lady Badgers.
"Button coming in and serving points seven through 18 really gave us some momentum," said Florence coach Joanna Hensley. " … It is hard to beat that with that kind of performance and the team working behind the server."
Florence (2-5) was not the only team making strides as a program.
The Harker Heights junior varsity took third place by defeating district rival Shoemaker's varsity squad in three games, 22-25, 25-22 and 15-11.
"It means a lot (to take third)," said Harker Heights junior varsity coach Jamie Stephens. "We are building and we have to show these kids that they can win … Our kids can compete and that is why we brought them here.
"We feel like they can compete with a varsity team and it showed. I wish it was first, but we will take third."
Shoemaker (2-5) won the first game on the back of Ebonie Davis, who had four kills and a block. The fourth kill gave Shoemaker a 21-19 lead that they did not relinquish.
However, that was where the positives ended.
Despite six kills by Davis in Game 2, the Lady Wolves never could get on track and fell down 13-9 early, thanks to four straight aces by Harker Heights' Jordan Denney.
Two more aces by Blake Filip put the Lady Knights up 22-15 and in effect forced a Game 3.
There, two big blocks by Denney and Katie Schultie put Heights in front 12-7 and Schultie slammed down a block and a kill to finish off Shoemaker.
"I don't think they got discouraged as much as frustrated," Shoemaker coach Merdith Shaw-Moore said. "That was a JV team and I think any varsity team that does not perform up to its abilities against a JV team is going to get frustrated – not just with the game but with themselves."
The day started more promising for the Lady Wolves even if it was still another loss.
After losing the first set of their semifinal match to Jarrell, Shoemaker rallied in the second game.
After falling down 12-7 to the Lady Cougars, who lost in the tournament championship to Troy, had aces by Bria McLain and Tyemekia Jones to pull within two, 14-12.
Hailee Showers had kills on three of the next four Shoemaker points as they tied the game at 16.
Davis then came up with an ace and a kill to give the Lady Wolves the lead at 22-20 and Jones had an ace to give them match point at 26-25. Jarrell's next hit went long and Shoemaker won the second game.
The Lady Wolves' third game woes continued, though.
After taking Shoemaker took a 6-1 lead on the back of a kill by Naiya Porell and an ace by Jones, Jarrell came back and scored eight of the next nine points.
A pair of errors gave the Lady Cougars the 16-14 win and put them in the finals.
"Heart makes a difference," Shaw-Moore said. " … If you don't have a group effort you are going to fall short."