State-ranked No. 3 El Paso Chapin made a statement in the first game of a best-of-5 area championship volleyball match against the unranked Aledo Ladycats.
The Lady Huskies stormed out to a 13-2 lead and won by 13 points to show the Ladycats why the Texas Girls Coaches Association has them ranked as high as No. 3
But then the worm turned.
Unruffled, the Ladycats came back with wins of 25-19, 25-17 and 25-18 to seal the match played Friday night at Odessa Permian High School and will advance to the regional quarterfinals to face Amarillo.
The regional quarterfinal match is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Vernon High School.
In sets two through four – comprised of a total of 129 rallies – the Ladycats trailed just seven times, surrendering the lead after only one rally in game three and leading from start to finish in the game-four clincher as Aledo looked more like a team ranked in the Top 3.
Ladycats head coach Claire Gay explained why Chapin looked so strong in the opening game, and what the Ladycats did to combat it.
“Chapin came out and played super quick, and we weren’t expecting that type of speed,” Gay said. “I think we were horrible in the first set; we couldn’t get anything rolling. But we made some adjustments in the second set and I challenged them to get it together.
“The girls came through. They have been here before, and they know when you are this far in the playoffs that you have to work for every point. Consistency is key, and we got better as the match went on. We made adjustments against their speed and kept them out of system which slowed them down.
“Our serving also got better. But we are not even close to peaking, and I hope that comes (soon). In the last few sets we kept making them guess and that was huge. We provided a bunch of weapons and not just one or two.”
After Chapin easily won the first game, the Lady Huskies found themselves in an 11-11 tie in game two.
It was Aledo junior middle blocker Daleigh Ellison that jump-started the Ladycats’ offense when she sent down consecutive kills off feeds from setter Maggie Wackerhagen to give AHS a 13-11 lead.
Two rallies later Aledo went on a 7-0 run to take a 20-13 lead with the last two points coming on kills from outside hitter Lilly Taylor – off sets from Sarah Morehead – to extend the lead to 20-13.
The Ladycats got to game point after a kill each by Morehead and Evelyn Torres, and two rallies later Aledo squared the match at a game apiece after a combination block from Audrey Pearce and Torres.
In the ever-important third game, Aledo broke open a close game with four unanswered points – two of which were aces from Morehead – to take an 11-7 lead. Aledo maintained a four-point cushion, 20-16, before a kill each by Torres and Hannah Jones increased the lead to 22-16.
The teams split the next two points, and a Chapin return error gave the Ladycats a 24-17 advantage. On the next rally, Morehead set up Ellison for a slam-dunk kill from the middle to seal the set and give AHS a 2-1 lead in games.
Talented Chapin stayed tough, and after 20 rallies the fourth set was tied, 10-10. But on the next seven rallies Aledo outscored Chapin 6-1 to take a 16-11 lead and the Lady Huskies never recovered.
A kill each by Jones and Ellison and a crafty setter tip for a kill by Morehead extended the lead to 20-13. The teams split the next six points before a combination block from Taylor and Anna Rogers brought game four to match point with Aledo leading, 24-16.
Three rallies later, a Chapin service error gave the Ladycats the final point to clinch the match and advance the team to the regional quarterfinals.