By Angel Verdejo
Killeen Daily Herald
LAMPASAS - Maybe playing in front of a friendly crowd can make a difference.
That was the case for Lampasas on Tuesday. At least it was for the start.
"I really felt like that helped the kids get pumped up and ready to play - it was a good atmosphere for a non-district game," Lampasas head coach Beth Rutland said.
The Lady Badgers took that energy and delivered the first blow.
But it was Gatesville which delivered the knockout.
Lampasas stayed with the state's fifth-ranked Class 3A team, but each time the Hornets had an answer and walked away with a 20-25, 25-13, 25-15, 25-15 victory.
"This is our first true road game with a good fan base against us, and I think our kids got a little spooked a little bit, honestly," Gatesville head coach Rickey Phillips said. "They were worried too much about what was going on in the bleachers and not on the floor sometimes. Teams that have that kind of environment are always going to play well at the start."
That was the case in Game 1.
The teams went back and forth, with Gatesville taking leads of 11-7 and 16-13. But - coupled with Hornet errors - the Lady Badgers found another gear.
Two Gatesville errors cut the lead to one (16-15) and forced a timeout. Lampasas followed with three more points in a row. The Hornets eventually worked the score to 19-all, but Lampasas rallied again.
A Tealey Farquhar ace followed two more Gatesville errors, then Ashley Moore picked up two aces to close out the game, including a serve that fell between two Hornets.
Gatesville missed seven serves to go with six hitting errors in the opener
"And they're a good team," Phillips said of the Lady Badgers. "You can't give a bad team those kinds of breaks. We gave a good team those kinds of breaks and they whipped our tail."
Said Rutland: "That was one of the best efforts all around. We didn't make the mental mistakes that have plagued us up to this point. We played really good defense and took advantage of the opportunities that we were given.
"After that, we kind of got behind - kind of got down and stayed down."
Gatesville responded right away - the Hornets scored seven of the first eight points in Game 2. Rutland called a timeout, but the run didn't stop. Glynna Johnson followed with a pair of kills to lead 8-1.
The lead grew to 10 points as the Hornets continued to find ways to get the ball to Johnson. The 6-foot-3 middle blocker did plenty of damage from the net, but also recorded plenty of kills from the back row.
Johnson finished with 32.
"You kind of know where it's going," Rutland said. "But you still have to be in the right place at the right time. Finally they got some adjustments and got a few digs on her from the back row toward the end, but we don't have a lot of 6-3 back-row players hitting at us everywhere we go."
Gatesville setter Kaitlin Poe tallied 33 assists to go with nine digs, five kills and three blocks. Johnson also had three blocks, while Ashley Cook led the team with five.
Cat Bloomfield led Lampasas with seven kills, but the Lady Badgers had a pair finish with double-digit digs against Gatesville's hitters. Mikala Hirst led the way with 11, while Hailey Morrison (six kills) had 10.
"We made some mental mistakes - a lot of our mistakes tonight were aggressive," Phillips said, noting most of the service and hitting errors were due to the Hornets trying to make a play. "A lot of those mistakes are just aggressive plays that are going to happen."