Aledo head volleyball coach Claire Gay schedules the tougher area teams and has her team play in top tournaments to help prepare the Ladycats for district play.
She could not have had a better barometer when her team faced the top team in Class 5A, Lucas Lovejoy, on Tuesday night at the AHS gym.
Lovejoy, however, proved itself a worthy No. 1. The Leopards put the match away with a 10-point win in game four to win the match, 25-23, 22-25, 25-22, 25-15.
"I told the girls that this match proved we can play with anybody," Gay said. "It was a point-for-point match, especially in the first three sets, but (Lovejoy's) experience and a few smarter decisions were the difference in this match.
"I think we played really well defensively. Our blocking was awesome, and our hitters did a good job of making Lovejoy make decisions when they swung which put the ball in our defenders' platform because our block was set up properly.
"I think we scrambled (for hard-to-get balls) well, we didn't give up and fought really hard. I am proud of our girls."
Daleigh Ellison and Lilly Taylor each sent down 12 kills to lead the Ladycats, with Alex Grooms adding 10. Audrey Pearce had a team-high seven blocks to go along with eight kills, and setter Mattie Gantt dished out 38 assists.
Defensively, libero Riley Pickett notched 36 digs, with Grooms and Taylor each adding 21 and Ellison 20. Gantt added 19 digs.
Lovejoy came back from a 21-14 deficit to take the opener, 25-23.
The Ladycats jumped out to a 19-14 lead in game two, but Lovejoy came back and cut the lead to 22-21. A kill by Grooms followed by a Lovejoy wide return put the second set at game point with Aledo leading 24-21.
Two rallies later, Pearce sent down a kill from the middle to give the Ladycats a 25-22 win to square the match at a game each.
Aledo led 6-1 in game three, but Lovejoy quickly came back and tied the game at 7-7. From that point, the set was tied four more times, settling at 19-19.
But Lovejoy outscored the Ladycats 6-3 to close the third set and take a 2-1 lead in games.
Lovejoy raced out to a 12-6 lead in game four and never looked back, taking the game 25-15 to seal the match.
In sub-varsity action, the Ladycats freshman team swept Lovejoy, 25-21, 25-7, while the Aledo junior varsity fell in three sets, 12-25, 25-17, 18-25.
For the complete story see the Sept. 20 issue of The Community News.
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