ABILENE — The Brownwood Lady Lions started with a pair of victories and narrowly missed out on a third, settling for a 2-1 record in pool play Friday at the Abilene Bev Ball Classic.
The Lady Lions first defeated Jim Ned, 25-13, 25-20, then knocked off Wichita Falls, 29-27, 25-19, before falling to Class 4A No. 6 Krum, 23-25, 25-12, 25-22 in three sets.
Despite the 2-1 record, the Lady Lions (3-1 overall) clinched a spot in the gold championship bracket at Abilene Cooper High School. Brownwood will face Boerne Champion at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
“I'm very excited about the girls,” Lady Lions first-year head coach Jessica Withrow said following Friday's action. “I just told them I honestly wasn't sure what to expect going into this. I had a goal of reaching the gold bracket but I wasn't sure if we could pull it off, but they really surprised me and worked their butts off.”
Against Jim Ned, Torrey Miller led the Lady Lions with 11 kills followed by Aleyia Cotton with four, Katelyn Windham and Lindsey Larose with three apiece, and Olivia Fowler with a pair.
Hadley Monroe dished out nine assists followed by Miller with six, Annie Gillispie with two and Cotton and Davalynn Monroe with one each.
Defensively, Hadley Monroe tallied eight digs followed by Davalynn Monroe with six, Gillispie and Miller with three apiece, and Fowler with one.
At the net, Larose and Miller finished with one block apiece.
“We had to show up for the first game this morning and I told them whoever was awake was probably going to be the team to win,” Withrow said. “They got themselves awake and started off very strong.”
The Lady Lions followed with another straight-set triumph over Wichita Falls.
Miller again led the charge with 11 kills trailed by Cotton with six, Fowler with five, Larose and Becca Church with two each and Windham with one.
Hadley Monroe and Miller both finished with 10 assists while Gillispie, Windham and Davalynn Monroe were credited with one each.
Miller added a pair of aces while Cotton served one as well.
Defensively, Gillispie finished with eight digs trailed by Miller and Davalynn Monroe with five each, Hadley Monroe with four, Windham with three, Church and Lakyn Ratliff with two apiece and Cotton, Larose and Caitlyn Moody with one apiece.
At the net, Larose and Cotton notched two blocks while Windham and Miller added one each.
“What stood out today was how receptive they are of me and how they are wanting to get better,” Withrow said. “Every time there was a mistake they turned to me and wanted to know immediately how they could fix it, and they would try to fix it, which was exciting to see. They're hungry and want to get better.”
Brownwood appeared on the verge of a third consecutive sweep, the pool play championship and an early season upset of a state-ranked for before surrendering the final two sets of the day to Krum.
Miller matched her season-best with 19 kills followed by Cotton and Fowler with four apiece, Church with three, Windham with two and Larose and Ratliff with one each.
Hadley Monroe distributed 20 assists while Miller added four, Gillispie recorded a pair and Windham had one.
Moody, Gillispie and Davalynn Monroe served aces for the Lady Lions.
On the defensive end, Davalynn Monroe tallied 17 digs trailed by Miller with 12, Hadley Monroe with 10, Cotton with seven, Gillispie with six, Ratliff with four, Moody and Church with three apiece and Fowler with one.
Blocks belonged to Church, Miller, Larose and Windham.
“Against Krum, it allowed me to see what we need to work on and get better at,” Withrow said. “They've been working with a new coach as a new team for a week and a half. They've already come leaps and bounds from day one. If we were to face Krum again in the playoffs, and we'd have to go a long way to do that, I'd feel confident.”