The Brownwood Lady Lions flexed their muscles in their final match before the start of District 16-4A action, overpowering the Bangs Lady Dragons in three sets, 25-19, 25-11 and 25-11, Tuesday night at Warren Gym.
An endless barrage of spikes from Flynn Harrell, Julie Kennedy, Ta’Kenda Cotton and company proved to be more than the Bangs defense could handle.
“Our defense was good, but we’re not used to hits like that,” said Bangs head coach Adrian Welch. “We were defending not to pass-set-kill, we were defending just to defend ourselves on some of those hits.”
The Lady Lions, who had not played in seven days, needed a set to shake off some rust.
“I think we played good, but out first set was a little bad,” Kennedy said. “The level of competition was different and we had to adjust to the way they hit, but I think we did really well.”
A tip from Bangs’ Sarah Bartek moved the Lady Dragons within a point, 5-4, early, but Brownwood responded with five of the next seven points to gain a comfortable 10-6 advantage. Harrell, Cotton and Moochie Galloway each had a kill during the Lady Lions’ brief run.
The Lady Lions later strung together five straight points to increase their edge to 16-8. Kennedy recorded two aces and a kill before Bangs’ Julia Fincher notched a kill to end the run.
Bangs was unable to return an Alex Williams serve over the net as Brownwood built its first double-digit lead at 19-9. The Lady Dragons had similar difficulties on consecutive serves by Harrell, which led to Brownwood’s largest advantage of 22-11.
But the Lady Dragons were able to regroup and make a late charge.
Bartek, Fincher and Jacklyn McKee each had a spike that resulted in a point, while Bangs was able to catch the Lady Lions out of position on a few volleys as the gap closed to 24-19.
The Lady Dragons’ rally began with a string of five straight points that cut the deficit to 22-16, but Brownwood was able to hang on down the stretch for a six-point win.
“They’re not used to playing slower games and that was to our advantage early,” Welch said.
Added Williams, “Our first game was rough, but we came together and played as a team the way we know how to play. Our hitting is very strong right now. We’d like to improve on our passing, but that will come if we continue working.”
In the second set, the Lady Lions broke a 3-all tie on a Bangs net violation, then Cotton, Kennedy and LaCresha Williams reeled off consecutive kills to give Brownwood a 7-3 edge.
Another Cotton spike gave the Lady Lions their second double-digit lead in as many sets, 18-8, and this time the Lady Dragons were unable to make a comeback.
Back-to-back kills from Kennedy and Cotton made the score 24-11, before a block from Kennedy ended the second set.
The third set featured more Lady Lion dominance as consecutive kills by Harrell gave Brownwood an early 6-3 edge.
A kill from Stephanie Jordy and a spike by Shalisa Hall pushed Brownwood’s lead to 16-9. Alex Williams later served an ace to give Brownwood a 24-10 lead, which set up Galloway for the game-ending kill.
“They are a 4A school and at 2A we don’t see hitters like that,” Welch said. “I told the girls to stay confident and not get nervous. This was more for experience and to better ourselves.”
Bangs will turn around and host its own tournament on Thursday and Saturday. The Lady Dragons will play three matches Thursday at 8 a.m., noon and 1:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, Brownwood is off until Tuesday when they visit Waco High in the 16-4A opener.
“I think we’re at a really strong point and I think we’re going to be good,” said Kennedy of the impending 16-4A race. “I expect us to do better than last year.”