ABILENE — The No. 3 Brownwood Lady Lions clawed back to force a tiebreaker against Abilene Cooper, but were unable to stretch their win streak to five games as the Lady Coogs notched a five-set victory Tuesday night.
The Lady Lions, who slipped a spot in the most recent Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 3A state volleyball poll, dropped a 15-25, 25-15, 25-19, 17-25, 15-5 decision to Cooper, a Class 4A playoff team from a season ago.
Brownwood (4-3) continues to search for its identity on the floor as the Lady Lions are attempting to establish new chemistry with just three members of last year’s state finalist team remaining. The Lady Lions are currently fighting through inconsistent play that at times Tuesday reflected ideal precision, yet at others demonstrated the overall inexperience of the varsity roster.
Julie Kennedy led the Lady Lions with 15 kills, trailed by nine from Chloe Geye, five from Sheldyn Miller, four from Alicia Castillo, two from Melissa Rmeili and one from Kelsey Gober.
Miller tallied a team-high four blocks, followed by three from Kennedy, two each from Geye and Rmeili and one apiece by Castillo, Gober and Shelbie Harry.
Hadley Lindley chalked up a team-high six digs, Sarah Underwood contributed five, Kennedy and Miller chipped in four each, Harry finished with three, Geye and Castillo collected two apiece and Rmeili added one.
Kennedy, Miller and Geye — the Lady Lions’ three seniors — tallied four aces each, while Rmeili notched one.
Cooper controlled the decisive set from the get-go as it recorded the first six points, with five coming on Brownwood hitting errors. The Lady Coogs then increased their lead to 11-2 with the only Lady Lion points coming on kills from Kennedy and Castillo. Brownwood’s final three points came on an ace by Kennedy, a kill by Geye and a Cooper net violation, but the outcome was essentially decided by that point.
In the opening set, the Lady Lions picked up where they left off from their four-game weekend win streak, which earned them the consolation championship at the Bev Ball Classic.
Tied at 4-all, Castillo’s spike put Brownwood in front and triggered a run of five straight points, which included a pair of aces from Kennedy.
Leading 9-4, the Lady Lions stretched their lead to 14-6 thanks in part to a pair of kills from Miller and one from Geye.
Back-to-back kills by Cooper’s Ellie Harp — who finished with a game-high 17 — closed the deficit to 14-11, but a kill by Geye and a tip from Rmeili ignited another Lady Lion spurt that pushed the lead to 18-11.
Blocks by Kennedy and Castillo gave Brownwood a pair of nine-point leads at 22-13 and 23-14, then an ace by Kennedy pushed the advantage to 10 points, 24-14, where it remained.
In the second set, the Lady Lions opened a 13-10 lead, but Cooper answered with eight straight points to take control, 18-13. A tip from Rmeili reduced the deficit to four points, but Brownwood came no closer.
The third set saw a kill from Kennedy stake Brownwood to an early 6-3 lead, only to see Cooper draw even. A kill by Geye started a five-point spurt that created a 14-10 edge for the Lady Lions, but again Cooper had an answer.
For the second straight set, the Lady Lions surrendered eight unanswered points, which allowed Cooper to take control, 19-15, en route to winning the set.
Brownwood used a string of six straight points to turn the momentum in the fourth set. Trailing 10-8, a kill by Harry started the run, then a net violation against Cooper allowed the Lady Lions to draw even.
Another net violation, two kills from Geye and a punch shot by Miller that found a hole in the Cooper defense extended Brownwood’s lead to 14-10.
The Lady Lions continued to pour on the points down the stretch, with a kill from Kennedy establishing Brownwood’s eight-point lead — 21-13 — which was the final margin.
The Lady Lions will return to action Friday as they take part in the two-day Justin Northwest tournament.