Fresh off a fourth-place finish at the Bev Ball Classic, the Brownwood Lady Lions tallied their fifth victory in seven outings, defeating the Class 4A Abilene Cooper Lady Cougars in four sets, 25-23, 23-25, 25-22, 25-14 in Tuesday night’s home opener at Warren Gym.
Tuesday’s home contest is the only one scheduled between now and Sept. 30, when the Abilene Wylie Lady Bulldogs visit in the second District 2-3A match on Brownwood’s schedule.
Projected by head coach Mary Steed as the preseason 2-3A favorite, the Lady Lions demonstrated why they are capable of making a lengthy postseason run in their new classification.
The Lady Lions’ depth was apparent, especially on the front line where Julie Kennedy, Flynn Harrell, Moochie Galloway and Chloe Geye continually pounded the Cooper defense.
Geye’s performance was a welcomed site after she injured her right knee during Brownwood’s opening match in the Bev Ball Classic. Injuries have plagued the Lady Lions the past few seasons, and remaining healthy was one of Steed’s preseason keys to achieving the goals the team has set for itself.
After the Lady Lions and Cooper split two-point victories in the first two sets, the Lady Lions chalked up the final five points in the third set to seize the momentum.
Trailing 22-20, kills from Harrell and Kennedy allowed the Lady Lions to pull even. A block by Kennedy then pushed Brownwood in front, 23-22, while Galloway’s spike increased the lead to 24-22. Harrell then served the deciding point as the Lady Cougars’ return sailed out of bounds.
The Lady Lions trailed early in the third set 6-3, but pulled even at 9-all on a Harrell spike. Nine ties followed before another spike from Harrell gave the Lady Lions a 20-19 advantage, but Cooper answered with three quick points that resulted in a Brownwood time out.
After scoring the final five points of the third set, the Lady Lions carried that momentum into the fourth and final set, where they controlled the action throughout.
Brownwood jumped out to an early 7-3 lead following a Galloway spike. Geye’s spike pushed the lead to 9-4 before Cooper made a brief run to close the gap to three points.
Alex Williams later delivered a kill that deflected off the net to increase the advantage to 18-10, which led to a Cooper time out.
Kennedy’s spike gave Brownwood its first double-digit lead at 20-10, and the lead again reached 10 points on a Williams serve that was not returned (23-13) and a dual block by Geye and Stephanie Jordy (24-14).
A serve from Kennedy resulted in the final point as Cooper could not get the ball back over the net.
In the opening set, the Lady Lions rallied from an 11-4 hole to snatch a two-point win. A kill from Kennedy closed the margin to a single point, 20-19, then a pair of unforced Cooper errors gave Brownwood a 21-20 lead.
Cooper pulled even at 23-all, but then was whistled for a player touching the ball twice, which pushed the Lady Lions back ahead. Kennedy then served an ace to close the set.
In the second set, the Lady Lions trailed by as many as six points, 19-13, but were able to trim the deficit to 22-21 on a Kennedy kill. Spikes by Harrell and another by Kennedy made the score 23-22 and 24-23, respectively, but Cooper was able to collect its 25th point when the Lady Lions were whistled on a lift call.
Brownwood will be back in action this weekend as it plays in the Justin Northwest tournament on Friday and Saturday.