LITTLE RIVER-ACADEMY — Ellie Erwin described The Hive as a venue ripe with enthusiasm and a comfortable setting for her and the rest of the Academy Lady Bees. Perhaps that’s why the hosts appeared composed Tuesday night and didn’t budge much while locked in a tightly contested non-district match against Lampasas.
Helped along the way by timely scoring runs, the Lady Bees found ways in crunch time to secure the important points and made it 2-for-2 against Lampasas in a span of five days with a 25-22, 25-22, 25-23 home-opening victory, the first for first-year head coach Allison Waits inside the friendly confines of Academy’s gym.
“I feel like we did a lot better this game keeping our energy consistent and not getting down and just having faith in each other,” said Erwin, who tallied a team-high eight kills to go with three service aces and two blocks for Academy, which also swept the Lady Badgers on Friday. “I’ve been waiting to play at home. You know your community is going to come and support you.”
Erinn Bestick and Madi Warren each had five kills, Molly VandenBout added four, and Rhea White delivered 12 assists for the Lady Bees (2-3). Warren and Denise Davis landed three aces.
Morgan Lovejoy posted nine kills and two blocks, Allison Bertrand had three kills and Skylor Poole 13 assists for Lampasas, which overcame deficits in the first and third sets and led for most of the second but couldn’t piece together points when they mattered most.
“Our teamwork, our coachability and just our competitiveness really came out today,” Academy libero Olivia Queen said. “We just had a lot of focus.”
A 5-0 spurt in the opening set gave the Lady Bees some breathing room, and they led twice by as much as seven, including at 16-9. Lampasas chipped away at the margin and eventually caught Academy at 20-all after an ace from Kharis Castaneda. But, boosted by kills by Warren and Kenlee Krenek, Academy scored five of the next seven to take the 1-0 match lead.
Lampasas’ four-point advantage at 8-4 was the largest lead for either team in the second set, which had eight ties. The Lady Badgers led 21-18 when Waits called a timeout. Whatever was said during the stoppage that Queen summed up as a reminder to “keep pushing and play together” resonated on the restart and took the form of a 7-1 run — the final point an ace from Warren, whose second of back-to-back kills tied it at 21 — for the second-set win.
“My message to them was, ‘This is your court. Defend your home court. We don’t let them get the momentum on our court. So go out there and play your game,’” Waits said. “We held our own momentum and we didn’t let those ruts affect us long-term.”
Runs of 8-0 and 6-0 paved the way for Academy’s 18-11 lead in the third, and it was 21-13 after Erwin’s kill. Lampasas countered with nine of the next 11 points to get within 23-22. The Lady Badgers were back within one, 24-23, after Lovejoy’s final kill of the night but the next serve went into the net, sealing the outcome.
“We are underclassmen-heavy,” Waits said of her team that has two seniors — Queen and VandenBout — four juniors, five sophomores and a freshman in the rotation. “So right now it’s building their volleyball IQ and learning the camaraderie with each other. Once we establish all that, I think we are going to be pretty dangerous.”
Lampasas returns to action Friday with a dual match in Burnet.