The Brownwood Lady Lions extended their win streak to three games Friday night with their most important victory of the season to date — a straight-set triumph over the Mineral Wells Lady Rams in the District 7-4A volleyball opener at Warren Gym.
Following wins over Llano and Eastland in their final two pre-district matches, the Lady Lions knocked off Mineral Wells in relatively easy fashion, 25-14, 25-23, 25-14.
“The girls felt very confident going into the match with the last two wins we've had,” said Lady Lions first-year head coach Jessica Withrow. “They really worked well together. The amount of hustle, the digs on some of the balls we were able to get, it was very exciting to see. We've been talking about how we just don't want to win, we want to win big and take care of business.”
Torrey Miller paced the Lady Lions (10-13, 1-0) with 12 kills followed by nine and six, respectively, from freshmen Olivia Fowler and Gracie Boswell.
“We've really been working on hitting with them, trying to get them on top of the ball and I thought they did an amazing job of being able to read the set, get the perfect timing and then find the open spot,” Withrow said. “They're getting so much better and I'm very proud with them being freshmen.”
Aleyia Cotton added three kills, Lindsey Larose finished with a pair and Katelyn Windham delivered one.
Miller also led the way with 17 assists and three aces, while Hadley Monroe chipped in six assists, Cotton and Davalynn Monroe were credited with three assists each, Fowler added two assists and three aces and Boswell and Gillispie were also credited with one assist each. Cotton and Hadley Monroe contributed one ace apiece.
On the defensive end, Davalynn Monroe's 15 digs were a team-best trailed by 11 from Caitlyn Moody, Miller with 10, Gillispie with nine, Cotton with six, Fowler with four, Windham and Lakyn Ratliff with three apiece, Boswell and Hadley Monroe with two each and Becca Church with one.
“We were trying some different rotations and we took the first set,” Withrow said. “The second set we tried some different things and we were able to pull it off and got the win.”
In the opener, Brownwood scored nine of the first 12 points. A kill by Cotton capped a quick 4-1 run, while a kill by Fowler made the score 9-3 early in favor of the Lady Lions. The lead gradually increased to double figures, 18-8, on an ace by Miller. The lead peaked at 13 points, 21-8, on a hitting error by Mineral Wells (0-1 in district).
The Lady Lions didn't grab their first lead in the second set until a kill by Miller made the score 12-11. Brownwood slowly pushed the advantage to six points, 19-13, on a kill by Fowler, and the advantage peaked at eight, 22-14. Mineral Wells fired back with nine of the next 10 points to draw even at 23, but a pair of hitting errors against the Lady Rams foiled their comeback.
“We got a little out of rotation, we were trying different girls in different formations from the first set,” Withrow said. “They just got too many points on us, we needed to focus and get the ball back on our side. We lost some energy but we picked it back up and were able to finish.”
The finale mirror the opening set in many ways as Brownwood jumped out to a double-digit lead, 16-6, on a kill by Larose. Mineral Wells twice reduced the deficit to six points, but was unable to complete the comeback as the Lady Lions secured the sweep.
Glen Rose, which appears at No. 4 in the latest Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 4A volleyball state rankings, visits Brownwood in the second 7-4A match Tuesday.
“Tuesday we play one of the top-ranked teams in the state and it's going to be tough, but we have the confidence that we need,” Withrow said. “We want to be able to hang with Glen Rose and prove to everyone we have talent here and we want to be just as good as they are.”