By Raymond Linex II
Corsicana Daily Sun
Frost had its sights set on redemption. Wortham, with its more-seasoned volleyball pedigree, had other ideas.
The Lady Bulldogs shook off an opening-set loss — an epic one at that — and stormed back to win the Region II-1A bi-district match, 22-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-22 over their Golden Circle foes from Frost at Navarro College’s K. and Ida Wolens Special Events Center.
Wortham (24-15) will face Thrall in the area round.
Wortham is ranked No. 23 in the state poll. Frost was ranked No. 11 in the final poll.
The two teams met in the same round, same site a year ago. Wortham won in three. The Lady Bulldogs had to shake off the first set to move on this time.
“It was a total team effort,” Wortham coach Johnny Ward said, “but I don’t feel like we played very well.
“We had some kids step up, though. Some young kids played well.”
The opening set in front of a large and electric crowd at the Wolens SEC was some kind of tone-setter. A Morgan Elmore ace gave Frost an early 3-1 lead, but it would be the last two-point lead until the Lady Bears led 12-10 after two unforced Wortham mistakes. A Hillaree Schwartz ace made it 17-14, but Wortham wasn’t done.
The Lady Bulldogs took a 21-20 lead after three straight Frost miscues, but the Lady Bears responded. A Jae Moore kill followed by her ace set up Kaycee Bowling’s surprise push kill to close out the first set, 25-22.
At that point, Frost coach Elaine Woods liked where her team stood.
“I really thought we had the momentum coming in (to the match),” she said. “Our girls wanted to get back here, get redemption for last year.”
After a Bowling ace made it 3-0 Frost in Set No. 2, something clicked with the Lady Bulldogs. Elisha Libhart had a kill and block, and two more Libhart kills and an ace a few minutes later, Wortham opened a 13-7 lead. Frost stormed back to tie, 18-18, after an ace and a kill from Bowling, but Wortham scored the next four points — on three Frost miscues, and another Libhart kill. The Lady Bulldogs final three points in the second set came on Frost errors.
The two teams traded points in the third set, before Libhart sparked a 9-0 run to take a 23-14 lead. She had two aces, and Hannah McCord had three kills in the run.
Wortham closed out the third set, 25-16, on a Trinity Shivers kill.
The Lady Bulldogs never trailed after erasing a 2-0 deficit in the fourth and final set. McCord had a four-point service to give them a lead they’d never let go of, starting with an ace, and getting kills from Libhart and Kierra Busby, who had the biggest hammer at the net all night. The 5-2 lead was the largest until 12-8, off two Frost unforced errors, leading to a Woods’ timeout.
The next Frost timeout came after a seven-point Kendle Rhodes service that gave Wortham an 18-11 lead. The Lady Bears got key kills down the stretch from Moore, Schwartz and Heather Montgomery, and at one point got to within 23-22.
Wortham closed out the game with a block from Shivers and a kill from McCord.
“We lost six girls from last year’s team,” Woods said. “We had to regroup in more than one area. I’m proud of them. They stepped up to the challenge.”
Kerens Lady Cats beat Blum in 4
The No. 17 ranked Lady Cats got 28 kills from Breanna Baxter (12 kills) and Marqueshia Kelley (16 kills), 38 assists from Taylor Ames and seven blocks from Tinesha Tolliver, who all helped Kerens beat Blum, 25-18, 25-21, 23-25, 25-19 in the Class 1A bi-district match at Hubbard.
Kerens plays Mart in the Area round next. Ames (22-26 serving, 1 ace, 2 kills, 2 blocks) Tolliver (19-21, 1 ace, 5 kills, 5 digs), Baxter (17-19, 1 ace, 18 blocks), Kelly (4 blocks, 3 digs), Cambree Betts (13-16, 2 aces), 2 kills, 2 blocks), Emmanuella Armant (14-17, 3 aces, 1 block, 4 digs), and Kayla Kilcrease (9-11, 2 aces, 15 digs) all had big games.
Mildred sweeps New Waverly
Mildred, the No. 1 seed from 23-2A, had no trouble beating New Waverly in Leon, 25-17, 25-21, 25-19 to advance to the Area round.