ABILENE - The Brownwood Lady Lions’ experience came in handy during their first volleyball action of the season Friday as their crisp play led to three pool play victories in Bev Ball Classic action at the Cooper High gym.
Brownwood rallied past Class 5A Lubbock Coronado in the opener, 22-25, 25-13, 25-16, then knocked off future District 2-3A rival Abilene Wylie, 25-22, 23-25, 25-17, before ending the day with a 25-15, 25-16 win over 4A El Paso Jefferson.
By virtue of their 3-0 pool record, the Lady Lions will compete in today’s championship bracket of the tournament. Games resume at 9 a.m. at Cooper High and the Lady Lions will face Mansfield Timberview in their opening match.
The lone negative to Friday’s outing was the unwanted return of the injury bug, which Brownwood head coach Mary Steed stated the Lady Lions must avoid if they intend on capturing a district championship and advancing to the postseason for the fifth year in a row.
Midway through the final set of the Lady Lions’ opening victory over Coronado, middle blocker Chloe Geye turned her right ankle and was carried off the court. Geye did not return, but looked to be in good spirits despite using crutches to get around on her heavily wrapped ankle. The severity of her injury was unknown at press time.
As for the action on the court, a budding rivalry appeared to develop between the Lady Lions and Wylie, who will meet twice in District 2-3A action. The Lady Lions, who are coming off four straight appearances in the Class 4A playoffs, had their hands full with a Wylie squad that played its first-ever varsity match Tuesday.
In the end, however, Brownwood’s experience made the difference, though the Lady Bulldogs would have to be considered one of the top playoff contenders in 2-3A based on Friday’s performance.
The Lady Lions and Wylie were tied on 32 occasions during the three-set match, including 16 times in the first set alone.
In the deciding set, the Lady Lions used a string of five straight points to grab a 16-13 lead and never trailed again en route to an eight-point victory.
Trailing 13-11, back-to-back spikes from Flynn Harrell and Julie Kennedy allowed Brownwood to pull even. Kennedy then drilled another spike through the Wylie defense, which put the Lady Lions up for good, 14-13. Wylie followed with a net violation, then Moochie Galloway slammed a spike off a Lady Bulldog to cap the run.
Brownwood pushed its lead to 20-15, with Galloway, Kennedy and Stephanie Jordy sparking the offense, before Wylie called time out. The Lady Bulldogs were able to climb within four points at 21-17, but the Lady Lions were aided by a block out of bounds and a pair of unforced Wylie errors prior to Sheldyn Miller’s block, which clinched the victory.
In the second set, the Lady Lions raced out to a 17-10 lead, only to see Wylie rally to force a tiebreaker. With the score knotted at 7-all, a kill from Miller - who stepped up in Geye’s absence - began a 10-3 run for the Lady Lions.
Highlighting the surge were serves delivered by Kennedy and Jalisa Hall that the Lady Bulldogs couldn’t get back over the net, Alex Williams picking up a point on a tip and a Harrell block that resulted in another point.
But Wylie slowly worked its way back into the set, closing the gap to 21-17. The Lady Bulldogs then pieced together a 7-0 run to grab a 24-21 lead, which put the Lady Lions’ backs to the wall.
A pair of kills from Harrell drew Brownwood within a point at 24-23, but Wylie was able to tally the final point to complete the comeback.
In the first set, Brownwood did not own a lead of more than one point until a lift called against Wylie made the score 24-22. Another lift followed, which gave the Lady Lions the three-point win.
Friday’s action started a tad sluggish for the Lady Lions, as they allowed six of the first seven points in the opening set against Coronado. The Lady Lions rallied and took a 16-14 lead on a Galloway kill, but could not sustain the momentum in a three-point loss.
The second and third sets were all Brownwood, however. The Lady Lions scored six of the first eight second-set points, but Coronado rallied within 9-7. Brownwood then scored four straight with the final point coming on a kill by Geye.
Kills from Harrell and Williams followed as the lead increased to 18-10, which led to a Coronado time out. Brownwood continued to dominate, however, and pushed the advantage to double figures, 21-11, on a spike by Tiara Brown.
In the third set, RaeLee Taylor’s unreturnable serve gave the Lady Lions a quick 4-1 lead, which led to another Coronado time out. Brownwood came out of the break and increased its advantage to 9-3, then rolled to the finish. The biggest lead for the Lady Lions was 13 points, 21-8, following a kill by Harrell.