BANGS — After chalking up five victories and a fourth-place finish at the Albany volleyball tournament over the weekend, the Bangs Lady Dragons recorded their second three-set home sweep in as many tries Tuesday night.
The Lady Dragons strolled to their first two wins, then squeaked past the Eastland Lady Mavs in the final set of their 25-13, 25-16, 25-22 victory.
“I don’t think we did this at all last year,” said Bangs head coach Adrian Welch of the Lady Dragons’ consecutive sweeps. “This is really helping them with their confidence and that’s what we need. It feels amazing.”
Bangs turned a 7-5 lead in the opening set into a 12-8 advantage, then the Lady Dragons reeled off eight straight points to expand their cushion to 20-8.
The Lady Dragons then started the second set with 11 of the first 12 points and coasted to the finish.
“We played with a lot more confidence than we have in the past,” Welch said. “Sometimes when you face a team that isn’t as strong as you are, you sometimes play down to their level. Eastland played a lot better in the last set, but we played to our level all game.”
In the first set, an Eastland service error put Bangs up 13-8. Jacklyn McKee followed with a spike and two Lady Mavs’ unforced errors led to a time out with the Lady Dragons on top, 16-8. McKee then served an ace, Eastland hit a pair of spikes into the net and Julia Fincher added a kill to push the advantage to a dozen points.
Fincher later added another kill to give Bangs a 21-10 lead, Sarah Bartek’s spike made the score 22-12 and Taylor Beck’s serve was returned out of bounds for the Lady Dragons’ 24th point. McKee then delivered a volley over the net, and miscommunication between a pair of Lady Mavs allowed the 25th point to hit the floor.
Bangs scored the first three points of the second set, including one on an ace by McKee. Leading 3-1, Fincher’s block began a string of eight straight Lady Dragon points.
Bartek picked up a point on a tip and LeCrecia Apple’s volley was misplayed into another of Bangs’ points during the run.
The Lady Dragons’ lead peaked at 15 points, 22-7, on a back row kill by Apple, but Eastland began to get into a rhythm and clawed its way back to make the final score respectable.
“When we had the team huddle before the second set, I told them that our goal was to not play down and to win the second game,” Welch said. “That was one of our weaknesses last year.”
The final set was much closer as Bangs never led more than five points.
Clinging to a 20-19 lead, the Lady Dragons received a block from Shiloh Morris that allowed for some breathing room. A kill from Fincher increased the lead to 23-20, and a spike by Andrea Evers put Bangs on the verge of victory, 24-22.
Following an Eastland timeout, McKee served an ace to seal the win.
“The third game, they shouldn’t have been tired because they’re not out of shape,” Welch said. “I think they were just taking things for granted a little bit. We’re still trying to learn to finish the game.
“We do have some new girls we added before the Albany tournament and we’re still having a little trouble with our teamwork. Their main goal for this game was to play as a team and play together.”
The Lady Dragons (2-0 officially) have a busy weekend in store as they will be playing in the Gatesville tournament Thursday and Saturday, and hosting Marble Falls at 5:30 p.m. Friday.