By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS – Chris Wiley came to Harker Heights to help turn around a team that managed just five wins last year.
In the second week of the season, Wiley is already reaping the benefits of the Lady Knights' improved play. The Lady Knights rallied past Austin Travis 20-25, 25-23, 25-17, 25-18 Monday and earned Wiley his 100th career victory in the process.
"I'm really glad the first home win we had here this year was the 100th win," said Wiley, who is in his ninth year as a head coach after five years at Bruceville-Eddy and another three at Crawford. "The girls played hard."
Looking uncoordinated early in the first game, as a 11-2 run led to a 21-10 lead by the Lady Rebels, Heights showed how far it's come under Wiley with its own rally and turned the entire contest on its head.
"Even when we went down (in) the first game, the girls came out and kept fighting and did it with defense, and that's what it takes," he continued.
Scoring 10 of the next 12 points to bring the score to 23-20, the Lady Knights (3-6) were invigorated by their effort despite losing the opening game 25-20.
"I think we just picked our heads up and went for it with no fear," said junior Bianca Patterson, who led the team with 10 kills.
Jumping out to quick 10-1 and 11-3 advantages in the second and third games, respectively, Heights was able to hold on to sweep the final three games as the Lady Knights equaled their non-district win-total from last year in just their ninth match.
"We realized that if we get ahead and push ahead, it makes life a lot easier on us and our defense," Wiley said.
Playing stout defense, with senior libero Darcy Parks leading the way with 33 digs, and solid execution of set plays, the Lady Knights showed their new coach the great strides they've already made.
"Coach (Tiffani) Walker – the previous coach – did a great job training these girls and getting them in this position," Wiley said. "They were young last year, they had to learn a lot of tough lessons, and they've learned them well and now they're getting to reap some of the rewards."
Also contributing with strong play along the front line were seniors Dakota Kelley, Katie Garrard and Elecia Jackson.
Contact Alex Byington at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (254) 501-7566.