Lady Tigers upset No. 3 Kennedale in 5
GLEN ROSE — If Glen Rose volleyball coach Sandy Langford had any reservations where her team stood with just 10 days before the district opener, she can draw some comfort after the Lady Tigers posted a huge 17-25, 26-24, 19-25, 27-25, 18-16 victory over No. 3 Kennedale on Friday night at Tiger Arena.
"We had absolutely nothing to lose, and going in there and taking that game away from them would be what we need before starting district,” she said.
Now only time will tell what the Lady Tigers learned from it and how much confidence they can draw from it before opening up district play on Tuesday at Lampasas.
“It will be interesting to see,” Langford said. “We have another tough match Thursday with Nolan Catholic, and I will say then we are ready.”
Junior outside hitter Matti Young recorded career highs in kills (23) and digs (19) and sophomore middle blocker Aimee Flippen added 16 kills and four blocks in leading the Lady Tigers to the upset win.
Down 2-1 in sets, the Lady Tigers trailed 19-24 in the fourth set, but they battled back to win the set 27-25 to force the decisive fifth set.
Earlier in the fourth set, the Lady Tigers trailed 13-20, but battled back and cut the lead to 19-21 before Kennedale scored three straight points to sit right on the cusp of winning the set and match.
“They sat back and were waiting for us to error and game over, but I told the girls to be patient, keep the ball in play, force them to run out of system, and then when the opportunity arose, put the ball away,” Langford said.
In the decisive run behind the serving of Brooklynn Vara, the Lady recorded five consecutive kills — four from Young, including three straight, and another by Gabrielle Bordeaux to tie the score at 24-24. A Kennedale hitting error then gave the Lady Tigers the lead at 25-24. Following a Kenendale kill to tie the score, Young notched another kill and Kennedale committed a hitting error to give Glen Rose the 27-25 set victory.
“There was a huge shift in momentum at that point. We had stopped their big hitter, taken control offensively and had some great serving going on,” Langford said.
In the fifth, the set was tied nine times before Glen Rose got the first shot at match point at 14-13, but Kenendale survived. Kennedale had match point at 16-15 but a kill by Flippen knotted things up at 16-16. Kennedale followed with a hitting error and Glen Rose’s Avery Gray, who had a career-high 54 assists, recorded a service ace to get the win.
“I knew no matter the outcome the girls put up a fight. There was the opportunity for it to go either way,” Langford said. “I knew we had to keep their best player off the front row as long as possible, and we did that.”
Behind Young and Flippen, Bordeaux tallied 12 kills, 14 digs and three service aces, and Ava Sehnert added 11 kills. Defensively, libero Cam Hinton recorded a season-high 30 digs, including five in the fifth set.
The Lady Tigers hosted Nolan Catholic on Thursday, and they will travel to Lampasas on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. to open district play and then host Stephenville on Friday.
“Stephenville and Brownwood return all and are old, mature and have all seen success,” Langford said. “Gatesville is young but very athletic and Lampasas has beat a few average teams this season. It will be a dog fight that’s for sure.”
The Lady Tigers finished third last year, despite a slow start, but starting fast this year will be key.
“We are a year older and they saw how we shot ourselves in the foot last year doing that,” she said. “I think with all of the tournament play and games will help us be better prepared.”