GATESVILLE — Gatesville may not have overlooked Ellison’s volleyball team — but after Tuesday night’s victory the Lady Hornets will certainly be on the lookout for them.
Gatesville overcame the Lady Eagles’ relentless effort with some intense determination of its own and won in four highly contested games, 25-21, 25-19, 25-27, 25-22.
“We knew that coach (William) De Gracia would have his guys ready and I told our kids that this was a big game for us too,” said Gatesville head coach Ricky Phillips. “(Ellison) has improved so much over there and we knew they were making this a big game, and were, too.”
After a back-and-forth first game, Ellison (1-1) looked to even the match and played Gatesville (2-0) evenly through the first few points of Game 2.
With the score tied at 4-4, Lady Hornet senior Ashley Cook stepped in to serve and reeled off four straight points for her squad, two of which were aces.
Ellison fought back to within 9-7, but an 11-3 run highlighted by nine straight Lady Eagles errors pushed the score to 20-10.
“We have to get better with our consistency,” De Gracia said. “When we fall out of our consistency, we make mistakes and fall behind.”
Phillips didn’t see it that way.
“During that stretch, we had some of our best passing of the night and we put them in situations where they’d have to make some tough plays,” he said.
In Game 3, the Lady Eagles built a 21-17 lead through tough play and several Gatesville mistakes. Ellison senior Malaysia Hope set fellow senior Kortni Taylor with a perfect pass and Taylor spiked it home for the kill pushing the lead to 22-17.
“We were making way too many mental mistakes that led to too many points for (Ellison),” Phillips said. “I told them that if you make a mistake, then you make a better play later, but don’t worry about the mistakes.”
Gatesville used four straight points from senior Lauren Nichols to close the gap before they tied it at 24-24 on an Ellison net error.
Ellison eventually took the game 27-25 but it was obvious that the Lady Hornets took the momentum.
“I’m not mad about that loss right there,” De Gracia said. “We used to give up and lower our heads when we got down, but not anymore. Our girls know now what it feels like to win and the want it again.”
For Ellison, the loss had less to do with its own shortcomings than with the Lady Hornets’ bread-and-butter, Paige Chambers and Cook.
The two seniors combined for 37 assists and 30 kills. The two routinely dived after every ball within range — sometimes landing them in the player benches or the scorer’s table
“We have a saying around here,” Phillips said. “Jump through the glass if you to.”
Chambers added: “It’s for the team. We want the team to do better so we go all out for each other. If we go all out then the rest of the team does to.
“We know that anyone of us will try to get the ball and keep it alive,” Cook continued. “So no matter where you are the ball might go to you so you have to finish it to get the point.”