Lady Dragons improve to 1-2 in district, Lady Horns fall to 0-3

BANGS — The Bangs Lady Dragons established a two-sets-to-none advantage, and opened a 17-12 edge in the fourth set, but still needed five sets before they were able to finish off the Early Lady Horns for their first District 6-3A volleyball victory.

Bangs chalked up the 25-17, 25-19, 13-25, 23-25, 15-13 win Saturday to move to 1-2 in district action, while Early slipped to 0-3 against league competition.

“We did a good job coming out aggressive early on,” said Bangs coach Kenny Prescott. “Early made some mistakes in the first couple of sets and we did a good job capitalizing on them. The script flipped after the second set and we made the mistakes and Early did a good job taking care of those opportunities we gave them. The fifth set was back and forth and our kids showed a lot of heart and resiliency.”

Early was coming off a five-set loss to Eastland in which it squandered a two-sets-to-none lead, and almost achieved a complete reversal.

“I was very proud that we didn’t give up,” said Early first-year head coach Natalie Whitewood. “We could have easily just went home after we lost the first two. We will learn to work the cut and when we do, the sky is the limit for us.”

Kyra Smith sparked the Bangs effort with 13 kills followed by seven from Kenzie Baker. Halle Baker dished out 22 assists.

On the defensive end, Baker notched seven digs and Corhen Hinze contributed six.

For Early, Kacee Gober’s 12 kills led the way trailed by nine from Ellie Ryan, seven from Trinity Tomlinson, three each from CyLee Tyson, Jenna Whitehead and Lainey Speck, and two from Hope Boswell.

Tyson also tallied 15 assists and five aces, while Speck served five aces and Tomlinson and Hallie Brinson added three each.

Defensively, Emma Loven recorded 34 digs followed by Tomlinson with 20. Brinson chipped in nine followed by Tyson with eight, Brilee Tabor with six, Gober with four, Speck with three, Boswell and Whitehead with two each and Morgan Luckie with one.

Gober notched five blocks with Boswell contributing one.

Bangs trailed 8-6 in the decisive fifth set, but wrestled away the momentum by tallying six of the next seven points to open a 12-9 lead. A service error and double touch by Early allowed Bangs to pull even at 8, while a hitting error into the net by the Lady Horns pushed the Lady Dragons in front, 9-8.

Ryan responded with a spike for Early that leveled the score at 9, but two more errant spikes by the Lady Horns gave Bangs an 11-9 edge. Lady Dragon Trenedi Deal followed with a volley that found a hole in the back corner of the Early defense, stretching the lead to 12-9.

The Lady Horns answered with a 4-1 spurt as a pair of blocks from Gober helped Early pull even at 13-all. Following a Bangs timeout, Smith delivered a kill that pushed the Lady Dragons back in front, 14-13, then Hinze followed with a serve Early couldn’t get back over the net to complete the victory.

Trailing 3-2 in the first set, Smith’s first kill of the day pulled Bangs even and triggered a 10-2 run as the Lady Dragons raced out to a 12-5 advantage. Early crept within 14-13 on a serve by Tyson that Bangs couldn’t get back over the net. The Lady Dragons, however, pieced together a 6-1 surge to establish a 20-15 cushion, with Deal recording a block along the way.

Early grabbed a 7-3 lead in the second set, but Bangs stormed back with 14 of the next 19 points to open a 17-12 advantage. Smith picked up four more kills during the run, Deal tallied a point on a tip and Sydney Horton served an ace.

The Lady Horns led through most of the fourth set as a kill by Tomlinson started a string of four straight points that gave Early a 14-9 edge. The Lady Horns’ lead gradually grew with a kill from Speck making the score 18-11, and Boswell’s kill giving Early a 21-13 edge.

In the fourth set, the Lady Horns faced a 17-12 deficit by closed on a 13-6 run. Back-to-back kills by Gober ignited the rally, and a kill by Ryan finally pushed Early ahead, 22-21. Knotted at 22, a dig by Early’s Loven back over the net found a hole in the Bangs defense to give the Lady Horns a 23-22 lead. Tomlinson followed with a kill ahead of a kill from Baker that trimmed the deficit to 24-23, but another kill from Gober forced the tie-breaking set.

Bangs and Early return to action at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday as the Lady Dragons host Comanche while the Lady Horns welcome Dublin.