By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
Five-foot-2 never played so big.
Ellison's Kortni Taylor, all 62 inches of her, has the petite body of a back row player, but showed the power of her front row aspirations in the Lady Eagles' 25-23, 25-10, 25-17 sweep of Belton on Tuesday night.
"That's just what I want," said the junior Taylor of playing front row in college. "I have to live up to Megan (McKinnon) and Chelsea (Grant), who are bigger than me, and hit hard, too. I have to live up to what they do so I can be on their level at my height."
Taylor had a team-high seven kills, including two back to back to spark a 10-1 run in Game 2 and helped the Lady Eagles (14-17, 4-2 12-5A) rebound from a disheartening three-game loss to Bryan on Friday.
"It's good, it's big and it's also a good feeling going into the A&M (Consolidated) game," Ellison coach William De Gracia said. "It's good momentum for us going into that game."
Consolidated beat District 12-5A co-leader Copperas Cove on Tuesday, giving the Lady Tigers sole possession of first place with one game before the district's second-half schedule.
Belton (5-23, 1-5) missed eight serves in Game 1, a bad start for a team that was
looking to bolster its playoff chances by defeating one of the district's leaders.
"That just kills our momentum, kills our confidence starting off the match," Belton coach Justeen Coulson said. "If we would've won Game 1, I'm sure we would've gone into Game 2 with a lot more confidence and we would've won Game 1 if we missed less than eight serves."
Grant had 10 blocks and four kills; Ocleta Young and Malaysia Hope each had seven assists and Taylor added three assists.
Brieanne Brown had eight kills, Lexi Johanson had eight digs led Belton with eight kills and Maggie Kramer had 19 assists to lead Belton.
The Lady Tigers missed three serves early to squander a match-opening 5-1 lead, then down by one, 12-11, missed two straight serves and lost back-to-back points on receiving errors leading to a 16-12 Ellison lead. Belton then missed three more serves down the stretch, and a Hope kill pushed the Lady Eagles into Game 2 with the momentum.
Ellison jumped out to a 7-0 lead in Game 2 only to have Belton fight back with timely kills from Kramer, Savannah Frick and Brown. Brown's kill midway through the game cut the Ellison lead to four, 12-8, but Taylor responded with her big hits.
"When I hit like that, I was like 'Oh my God, I just hit like Chelsea.' It was really big for me," Taylor said. "I really felt like that set the tone for me the rest of the game because I was on fire the rest of the game."
Savannah Loris hit three-straight aces in Game 3 to turn an Ellison 8-6 lead to 11-6 and the Lady Tigers got no closer than four the rest of the match. Ellison led by as many as eight late, but a kill from Frick and back-to-back aces from Alexis Dunning cut the Lady Eagles' lead to five, 22-17.
And Taylor did the rest.
Her final front row kill broke Dunning's serve and then she served two straight aces to close out the match.
"She's 6-foot-5," De Gracia said of Taylor. "That young lady is a 6-foot-5 player. She has the heart for it to be on the front row and she's shown that since the first of the year. She said, 'Coach, I'm a front row player,' and she has proven that."
Contact Kevin Posival at email@example.com or (254) 501-7562.