EARLY — The best run in the most successful season to date in the brief history of Early Lady Horns volleyball featured a seventh win in eight matches Tuesday night, a 25-9, 25-6, 25-9 triumph over the Coleman Lady Katts — a program in the same inexperienced shoes Early was just a few short years ago.
Early second-year head coach Natalie Whitewood expected her charges to put the young Coleman squad away quickly, and the Lady Horns (14-11) obliged.
"I told the girls we need to get after it right from the start, this doesn't need to go any more than three sets," Whitewood said. "We also needed to work on things that are going to be coming up in district — no balls hitting the floor, talking, moving and making sure we're staying together — so that's what we were concentrating on."
The Lady Horns owned a 7-11 record on Aug. 25 as they took the court for the second day of the Bronte tournament, where they claimed two of three contests. Since that point, Early has tacked on five consecutive victories — the longest win streak in the program's five years of existence.
"I think a lot of it is confidence," Whitewood said of the Lady Horns' recent run of success. "We're playing well together, we're talking and the more wins we keep getting the more confidence we get in ourselves."
In the win over Coleman, the Lady Horns served 19 aces led by nine from Emma Loven, four each from Trinity Tomlinson and Taylor Summers and two from Vance Cady Gordon.
Tomlinson collected two kills while Kenzie Poindexter and Hope Boswell were credited with one each.
Gordon and Summers had the only assists.
On defense, Tomlinson's 11 digs led the way followed by seven from Alexa Portillo, six from Summers, four from Gordon, three from Haley Spieckerman and one apiece from Boswell, Loven, Kacee Gober and Ellie Ryan.
At the net, Ryan notched the only block.
In the opening set, Early tallied seven of the first eight points with a spike from Tomlinson capping the surge. The lead reached double figures, 12-2, following an ace by Loven. The Lady Horns' advantage peaked at 17 points, 23-6, following another spike from Tomlinson.
The second set saw Early score six of the first seven points and open a double-digit lead, 12-2, following a spike from Ryan. Early tacked on six of the next seven points to boost the advantage to 18-3. A service error allowed the Lady Horns to grab a 20-5 lead, and a kill from Tomlinson eventually ended the set.
In the finale, Coleman trailed just 7-6 at one point, but Early reeled off six points in a row with a kill from Boswell completing the run. The 13-6 edge eventually grew to double digits yet again, 19-9, following an ace from Tomlinson. The Lady Horns added six more points to cap the 9-0 closing run as another ace from Tomlinson concluded the match.
The Lady Horns host Brady Saturday and Lampasas Tuesday before opening up District 6-3A action against Hamilton on Sept. 21 in Early.
"I feel like we still haven't reached our maximum potential, and when we do it's going to be lights out," Whitewood said.