BANGS — The Bangs Lady Dragons halted a 10-match losing streak on ‘Senior Night,’ and ruined any chance of the rival Early Lady Horns reaching the playoffs with a four-set victory Tuesday.
The Lady Dragons avenged a pair of earlier losses to the Lady Horns — one in district and one in pre-district tournament action — with a 25-17, 26-24, 14-25, 25-23 home triumph.
Prior to Tuesday, the last victories for the Lady Dragons (6-19, 1-7) were a pair of wins on the final day of the Dublin tournament back on Aug. 27.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better Senior Night,” said Bangs head coach Lori Eason. “It has not been the season we hoped for, but they have not quit at all and they proved it tonight. Even when we got down we came back and when it close at the end we just hung in there.
“I told the girls even with the bi-district championships we’ve won, this one right here was right up there. Everybody knows when we play Early it’s a huge rivalry and it’s hard sometimes to not get wrapped up in that, but we kept our heads and did a good job.”
The Lady Horns (9-20, 1-7), meanwhile, needed to win their final three matches and have Dublin lose out to have a chance for the fourth playoff berth out of District 6-3A.
“Tonight was a tough loss,” said Early head coach Mitzi Bell. “We gave up way too many points in row and then would have to battle back. When we were ahead we didn’t take care of the lead and let them get momentum and they took advantage of that for sure.
“I’m proud of them for fighting hard and not giving up. They’ve really come a long way from where we started. It’s just the little errors add up and get us in a bind. Everyone contributed tonight and we have really built the meaning of team and that’s going to carry us along further in the future of this program.”
Kenedi Deal ignited the Bangs offense with four kills followed by two from Kenzie Baker and one apiece from Kyra Smith, Karlie Little and Harley Montague.
Marianna Alvarado dished out 20 assists trailed by 17 from Baker, 11 from Alli Allen, four from Deal, two from Little and one from Smith.
Behind the service line, Baker collected four aces while Deal and Smith added three each, Allen finished with two and Little and Montague chipped in one each.
Defensively, Little’s eight digs led the Lady Dragons trailed by five each from Deal and Vanessa Perez, four from Alvarado, three from Baker and one from Kim Robinson.
Baker, Smith and Montague also recorded one block apiece.
For Early, Kacee Gober collected a team-best nine kills followed by Trinity Tomlinson with six, Jayslin King and Tuesdi Tidwell with five apiece, Hope Boswell with four, Ellie Ryan with two and Cylee Tyson and Morgan Luckie with one apiece.
King dished out 13 assists trailed by Tyson with six and Gober and Ryan with a pair each.
Luckie’s five aces led the Lady Horns while Tomlinson added four, Gabby Constancia finished with three and King and Tidwell served two apiece.
On the defensive end, Constancia tallied 29 digs followed by Tyson with 19, King with nine, Hallie Brinson with eight, Holly Callaway with seven, Boswell with four, Gober and Luckie with two each and Tidwell with one.
At the net, Gober notched two blocks while Boswell, King, Tidwell and Ryan were each credited with one.
In the opening set, Bangs raced out to an 11-1 lead and withstood an Early rally, as the Lady Horns crept within 16-13 before the Lady Dragons finished with a 9-4 surge.
“That helped us a lot because we have the tendency to dig holes for ourselves sometimes, but we didn’t tonight,” Eason said of the quick start. “We talked about how important it was to get off to a good start, and we did that and it set the tone and let everybody know we’re ready to play.”
In the second set, Bangs led by as many as eight points — 16-8 — but Early stormed back and led 24-22 after a Tidwell kill.
An unforced error by the Lady Horns closed the gap to 24-23, then Early was whistled for a double touch. Baker then served back-to-back balls that Early couldn’t handle, which allowed Bangs to complete the four-point closing run.
“That was huge because we’ve shown the tendency not to be able to do that,” Eason said. “The second set where we won 26-24 and we were down two points and scored the final four, that was great. They just amazed me.”
Early dominated the third set with an 11-point victory, but the fourth was another back-and-forth battle.
Bangs led 21-17 only to witness Early rally for a 23-22 advantage. A tip by Little allowed the Lady Dragons to pull even at 23, then Little served an ace to push the Dragons in front, 24-23. The match ended on the next Little serve when the Lady Horns were again whistled for a double touch.
Early is back in action at 2 p.m. Saturday as it hosts Dublin, while Bangs welcomes Comanche at 6 p.m. Saturday.