EARLY — In their eighth District 6-3A volleyball match of the season, the Early Lady Horns finally chalked up their first victory as they swept the Bangs Lady Dragons, 25-23, 25-15, 25-22 Tuesday night to avenge an earlier loss in league play.
Bangs (1-7 in district) notched its lone league win at home against Early (1-7 in district) in five sets on Sept. 30.
“This was the biggest win of the season for us,” said Early first-year head coach Natalie Whitewood. “I knew we had it in us and we finally worked the cut. I am beyond proud with how my girls never gave up and pushed not only to win, but win in a three-game sweep.”
Kacee Gober led the charge for the Lady Horns with six kills followed by four each from Lainey Speck, Trinity Tomlinson and Jenna Whitehead, three apiece from Ellie Ryan and Hope Boswell, two from Vance Cady Gordon and one apiece by Brilee Tabor, CyLee Tyson and Morgan Luckie.
Tyson also dished out 11 assists, Gordon added nine, Boswell finished with two and Emma Loven recorded one.
Tabor and Tomlinson served two aces apiece while Tyson, Speck and Luckie each finished with one.
Defensively, Loven’s 15 digs were a team-best followed by nine from Tomlinson, eight from Gordon, seven from Tyson, five from Whitehead, four from Tabor, three each from Speck and Hallie Brinson, two from Boswell and one apiece from Ryan, Gober and Luckie.
For Bangs, Kenzie Baker tallied six kills, Vanessa Perez led the way with seven digs and Trenedi Deal notch four blocks.
"We did not execute very well," said Bangs head coach Kenny Prescott. "Our decision making and focus were not where they needed to be for us to win the game. Even with all the mistakes we were still in position to try and win the first and third sets late in those sets, but we didn't make the plays when given the opportunity late. Credit Early for making the plays needed to win."
In the opening set, Early trailed 21-17 after a block by Deal, but Ryan answered with a kill. Still down 22-19 after service errors on both ends, an errant spike by the Lady Dragons allowed the Lady Horns to creep within 22-20. Bangs was then whistled for a net violation, and another errant hit knotted the score at 22. A spike from Perez pushed the Lady Dragons back in front, 23-22, but the Lady Dragons were then called for a lift, and their next two spikes were off target, allowing the Lady Horns to tally the final three points and a 25-23 victory.
With the first set victory in hand, the Lady Horns’ confidence seemed to grow. Behind the serving of Tyson, Early raced out to a quick 7-2 lead in the second set. Bangs crept within 11-8 following an Early service error, but back-to-back kills by Ryan triggered a run of six consecutive points and a 17-8 Lady Horns advantage. Tomlinson and Gober added kills down the stretch, and Gober also picked up a point on a block as Early cruised to a 10-point victory.
In the finale, a kill from Whitehead put the finishing touches on an 8-1 run for Early out of the gate. Bangs slowly whittled away at the deficit, with a pair of Baker kills closing the gap to 13-10. The Lady Dragons twice reduced Early’s lead to a single point — 17-16 on a kill by Smith and 19-18 on a kill by Baker — but the Lady Horns never relinquished their advantage. A kill from Gober, a net violation on Bangs and then a miss hit extended Early’s edge to 22-18. Down 24-20, Bangs closed to gap to two on a pair of Early miscues, but a final miss hit by the Lady Dragons clinched the three-point win for Early.
The Lady Horns visit Dublin at noon Saturday, while the Lady Dragons travel to Comanche.