EASTLAND — Add yet another golden volleyball to the Bangs trophy case.
The Lady Dragons earned their third consecutive bi-district championship, and second under head coach Lori Eason, with a four-set victory over the Clyde Lady Bulldogs Tuesday night at Marshall Gym.
The Lady Dragons dominated the first two sets, winning 25-16 and 25-15, stumbled in a 25-15 third-set loss, but regrouped to secure the match victory in the fourth set, 25-20. With the win, Bangs earned an area round playoff date later this week with the District 6-3A champion Wall Lady Hawks.
"I couldn't have asked for a better group," Eason said. "I told them the other day that we joke about a dream team, but I've told them over and over they are my dream team. No matter what we've been dealt this year, whether it be sickness, people quitting on us, injuries, we've come back from it. They are my dream team because they stick together and they want to win and be together."
Torrey Miller recorded a team-high 13 kills on offense for Bangs trailed by Callie Sprowls with 10, Nichole Spivey with seven, Raelee Francois with six, Alli Allen with two and Kenedi Deal with one.
Francois also distributed 27 assists while Miller, Allen and Karlie Little chipped in one apiece.
Sprowls served a team-best five aces followed by Spivey and Deal with two apiece and Francois, Miller and Allen with one each.
On the defensive end, Allie Keller collected 29 digs trailed by Miller with 24, Francois with 12, Spivey with nine, Sprowls with eight, Allen with Kynedi Bradley with six each, Deal with five and Little with two.
At net, Francois, Miller and Sprowls each tallied a block.
After the momentum slipped away from Bangs midway through the third set, which allowed Clyde to prolong the match, the Lady Dragons wrestled it back from the Lady Bulldogs just when it appeared Eason's squad was in serious trouble.
Trailing 9-5 in the fourth set following a string of five straight Clyde points, Bangs called a timeout. Coming out of the break, the serving of Sprowls turned the tide back in favor of the Lady Dragons as Bangs recorded eight consecutive points — including four on aces — to seize a 13-9 advantage. The Lady Dragons never trailed again.
"Callie served us back into the match," Eason said. "We've been practicing these kind of scenarios, putting a certain number points on the board — five or six — and then putting together enough points to come back. It's hard to do until you get into the match, but I think it helped us greatly."
Miller's lone block, which made the score 11-9, lit a fire under Bangs, as down the stretch the Lady Dragons gradually began to resemble the team that was on the verge of sweeping Clyde earlier in the match.
"We talked in the huddle about making mistakes, and if we do that to shake them off," Eason said regarding the timeout. "But we also talked about getting fired up when you do something good. Once we finally realized we were just beating ourselves and making unforced errors, we finally put it together and played like we did the first two sets. I'm just proud of the girls for hanging on."
In the opening set, Bangs owned a 14-13 lead when a 7-1 spurt resulted in a commanding 21-14 edge for the Lady Dragons. Francois and Miller recorded kills during the run, while Allen served an ace.
The second set was a rout from the start as Bangs raced out to a 9-2 lead behind an ace from Spivey and a block for a point by Sprowls. Clyde at one point trimmed the deficit to 17-12, but never came closer than five points.
The end of the third set was a 180-degree turnaround for Bangs as repeated, avoidable mistakes fueled a Clyde victory. Midway through the set, the Lady Dragons owned a 13-12 lead, but surrendered 13 of the final 15 points.
"The first two sets we played our game," Eason said. "We passed, set and hit. When we pass well and set and hit the ball, we're tough to defend. But when we start missing serves and shanking serve receives, then we get in trouble and start playing not to lose instead of playing to win — and there's a big difference."
Next for the Lady Dragons (16-14) is a rematch against Wall — which defeated Coahoma in the district round of the playoffs. Bangs dropped a five-set decision at Wall on Sept. 22 in which the Lady Dragons claimed the first two sets, only to witness the Lady Hawks to steal the victory.
A time, date and place for the area playoff had not been determined late Tuesday night.