Rolling through the quarterfinals and semifinals of Gold Bracket (championship bracket) play Saturday at the Northwest Volleyball Classic after sweeping Dallas Highland Park and state-ranked No. 3 Waxahachie, the Aledo Ladycats earned their way to the title match of this annual competitive tournament for the first time since 2006.
However, nemesis Waco Midway - a team that swept Aledo in the season opener on Aug. 8 - was the Ladycats last hurdle in their quest to earn the tournament title.
Although head coach Kathy Goings was pleased with her team and their competitiveness against the Lady Panthers, Midway prevailed. After narrowly escaping with a 25-23 comeback win in the opener of the best-of-3 championship match, Midway capture the second game, 25-19, to win the tournament that finished Saturday night at Eaton High School.
"The girls played much better against Midway than they did (in the season opener Aug. 8)," Goings said. "Our girls competed very well against them, and overall we had a good tournament, especially defensively. The girls were picking up a lot of balls, but against Midway we needed to get our block up a little quicker. But overall for the tournament I thought the girls blocked well and improved defensively. I am proud of them."
Two Ladycats- outside hitter Maddie Goings and middle blocker Emily Smith - earned all-tournament honors.
In game one of the championship match. Midway never took the lead until after the 41st rally as Aledo trailed 21-20. The Ladycats had taken a 15-11 lead for the largest margin of the set, but Midway followed with a 10-5 run for its one-point lead. A pair of Midway return errors gave the Ladycats a 22-21 lead, but Midway followed with a 4-1 run to seal the opener.
Midway never trailed in game two. TCU-bound hitter Allye Beth Deaton - another all-tournament selection - sent down a kill to give the Lady Panthers a 1-0 lead, and it was a lead they kept until consecutive kills by Maddie Goings - both on assists from setter Erin Weiss - followed by a Midway return error tied the second set, 14-14.
But Midway was not shaken and came back with a 9-2 run for a 23-16 advantage. Two kills by Aledo middle Sarah Haeussler, a kill by hitter Amanda Norman and a Midway return error kept the Ladycats in the game as they cut the lead to 24-19.
However, game two ended how it began with Deaton sending down a kill to give Midway the championship.
In the Gold Bracket quarterfinals Saturday morning, the Ladycats swept Highland Park, 25-17, 25-18. Maddie Goings recorded eight kills and a pair of blocks, while Haeussler finished with four kills and three blocks.
Saturday afternoon the Ladycats outlasted Class 5A state-ranked No. 3 Waxahachie in the semifinals, 25-23, 25-20. Smith recorded six kills and three blocks, while Maddie Goings added six kills.
The Ladycats (16-3) will continue non-district play at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday against No. 2 Lucas Lovejoy. The match will be played at a neutral site at the TAV gym in Carrollton.
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