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Lady Lions roll through another doubleheader for 8-0 record

Ennis’ serving and hitting prove too much for opponents
Ennis volleyball’s easiest matches are now in the rearview mirror, but the Lady Lions have held up their end of the bargain along the way.
Ennis moved to 8-0 on Tuesday night with home victories over the Eustace Bulldogs (19-25, 25-13, 25-20 and 25-14) and Terrell Tigers (25-11, 25-19 and 25-12). Lady Lion seniors Lauren Hodges and Carli Bragg said it’s been a joy to keep the winning streak alive.
“It’s been really great so far this year because we’ve got a new gym and we really want to show our school how good we can be,” Hodges said.
“I love playing with these girls,” Bragg added.
“The team is really close right now and winning keeps everybody happy. We celebrate as a team.”
Ennis vs. Eustace
Eustace is definitely a solid opponent considering it’s taken two games from Ennis in two meetings while all other opponents have combined to win one game against the Lady Lions.
Tina Anderson (13 kills, eight digs, three aces, two-and-a-half blocks) and Bragg (12 kills, 11 digs) had strong offensive games to ensure a sweep of the Bulldogs. They certainly weren’t alone, with contributions coming from Morgan Nichols (seven kills, five digs, four aces, two-and-a-half blocks, assist), Ashley Lewis (six kills, four digs, three aces, half block), Allie Rokas (six kills, two digs, two aces, block), Hodges (35 assists, kill, ace), Erika Hernandez (seven digs) and Sharna Polk (dig).
The maroon team got off to a good start to open the match at 9-4, but Eustace went on a 17-6 run to take a 21-15 lead. A kill and an ace from Rokas were among the few highlights as hitting errors piled up on the Lady Lions. Ennis worked its way within four points, but Eustace could see the finish line to clinch the game (25-19).
“[Monday] we worked on our second game because it’s been so poor, but today I think our second game became our first,” said coach Kim Vernor.
“We were sluggish. We also got ready quickly and weren’t prepared out on the floor. We might have had somewhat of a letdown after beating Eustace last week and way too many hitting errors didn’t help.”
Game two began as a seesaw battle, but Anderson got on a nice roll to put her team in command. After a tip, Tina ran off five-straight service points (three-straight aces) as Lewis chipped in a tip and a kill.
On the way to 22-11, Rokas and Anderson each drilled their own consecutive kills while Lewis added back-to-back tips. Eustace couldn’t find an answer for the net play as an Anderson tip, a Lewis kill and another Anderson kill ended the game (25-13).
“Tina was swinging a little long early and staying on the ground when she served,” Vernor said.
“She just needed to get rid of the uncertainty and play her game. After her serving streak, [Tina] was all over the place for us. Allie didn’t swing quite as much as she had been, but did well when we went to her.
“After game one, I told the girls we just played our [typical poor] second game – now it’s time to step up and do what we needed to do. We started to see the other side of the court and find some holes for our tips and kills.”
Game three was close throughout, but there were just too many plays being made at the net by a variety of Lady Lions for Eustace to pull it out. Anderson had four kills on the way to a 12-8 lead and then Bragg pounded three kills with a tip en route to a 22-18 advantage. Nichols really played well over that stretch with a kill, a block and a tip.
“It’s good to see different players get on a roll so we can keep the defense guessing,” Vernor said.
“Morgan is really an all-around player; I can use her on back row, she has a nice serve and makes plays at the net. Her only weakness is her height because she has to jump so high to come away with kills and blocks. We were hitting right into their middle blocker for a while; then we started working more areas of the court.”
It wasn’t like Eustace didn’t have a good shot to regain control of the match. Down just 18-17, a Bulldog serve into the net proved fatal as a late Bragg kill and Anderson tip clinched the third game (25-20). Jennifer Maliska wasn’t available for the evening and so Hernandez got a shot at more playing time to contribute her back-row defense.
“If they tie it up, then Eustace thinks they’re on a roll and can win,” Vernor said.
“It was a tough time to make a mistake. Erika is still getting used to the speed on varsity. She kept her composure and did what she needed to do.”
In the fourth game, Ennis regained its dominance from game two with the added bonus of an explosive start. On the way to a 14-2 lead, Anderson rolled up three kills and two blocks as Bragg added a tip and a kill. Nichols had a kill and a tip down the stretch, while the Bulldogs couldn’t stop Ennis from a 25-14 win to close out the match.
“Everything came together for us late,” Vernor said.
“You always want to push right off the bat in each game and take the momentum. The girls did it well and kept their composure.
“Morgan, Tina, Ashley and Allie stepped up their serving. Carli’s all-around game was there and her jump serves were good. She also serves well on the ground and it’s good for other teams to see different things from her.”
Ennis vs. Terrell
Despite having the largest enrollment of any team Ennis has faced this season, Terrell appeared to be the poorest opponent to date on Tuesday night. Kills and aces came in bunches against a Tiger team that seemed fortunate simply to get the ball back over the net.
Four Lady Lions finished with seven kills, including Anderson (six aces, six digs, block), Bragg (three aces, three digs), Rokas (four aces, two digs, block) and Lewis (six aces, two digs, block). Hodges racked up four kills to go with her 25 assists, two aces and a dig. Other contributors included Nichols (three kills, ace, dig), Polk (four digs), Monae Edwards (kill) and Asha Dansby (kill).
“The big deal for us was to stay focused, especially when we had a long run of service points,” Vernor said.
“It’s hard to remember to play when that stray ball comes back over.”
“I thought Terrell would be a lot better when I saw them warming up, but we didn’t drop our level of play and we’re doing a better job of communicating,” Bragg added.
The match became 5-0 Ennis in the blink of an eye with five service points from Rokas (ace), while Bragg (kill, tip) and Lewis (kill) chipped in. Ennis worked its way to 16-6, highlighted by a point where blocks from Rokas and Anderson bookended a Bragg save. Bragg (two) and Rokas (three) each had multiple kills down the stretch as Nichols delivered her second kill of the game in an impressive 25-11 win.
“Carli and Allie were both hitting well early to help us pull away,” Vernor said.
“Terrell wasn’t communicating. They had a big girl up front that could’ve done some damage, but they couldn’t get her the ball often enough.”
The Tigers took leads of 4-0 and then 11-6 in game two, yet they couldn’t hold the Lady Lions off. While a string of six-straight service points from Hodges (two aces, tip) helped her team roll to a 17-12 lead, Rokas (two) and Dansby had kills for the home team. Bragg and Lewis both contributed a late kill and ace to finish the game at 25-19.
“It was another slow game-two start for us, but the girls played their way out of danger,” Vernor said.
“Lauren is doing a better job of knowing when she’s on front row or back row as far as attacking. She’s really putting the tips away now, which is definitely to our advantage to have a dangerous setter. It’s critical that we keep working on our quick sets for district.”
For her part, Lauren knows when it’s time to get offensive-minded.
“When I’m on front row, I get it in my head that I’m going to go for tips and try to put them away,” Hodges said.
“We got a little lazy in game two, but we came back and did what we knew how to do to get the game over with.”
Game three must’ve been painful for the Tigers as Ennis dominated to finish with 13 aces. The Lady Lions went up 5-0 behind Rokas serving (three aces) and later enjoyed a stretch of eight-straight Anderson service points (six aces).
Other aces came off the palms of Lewis (two), Nichols and Bragg. Rokas, Hodges and Anderson each won points on tips as a Lewis kill mercifully ended the match (25-12).
“Terrell didn’t adapt very well to Allie or Tina’s serves,” Vernor said.
“I think Tina really got back in the swing of things tonight. We’ll keep working on our faster offense and trying to improve our defense.”
Ennis will look to remain perfect at home on Friday when it hosts North Mesquite. The subvarsity teams will begin at 5:30 p.m., with the varsity to follow at 6:30 p.m.
“We can’t get too high on ourselves after these wins because our district is going to be really hard,” Hodges said.
“We’ll have to practice hard and push each other to improve.”

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Posted by on Aug 27 2008. Filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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