ANNA – Anna knocked off Paris in four sets on Tues., Sept. 20, with senior Skylar Van Norman’s and senior Avery Oonk’s 19 kills each leading the Lady Coyotes’ charge. Anna overcame slow starts to win sets one and three before controlling set 4, wire-to-wire. Senior Grace Barnes collected a team-high 42 assists for Anna and junior Micaela Cornelius produced 15 digs, with Van Norman and Oonk adding 12 and 11, respectively.


The Lady Coyotes’ victory line read: 27-25, 15-25, 25-22, 25-16.


“One thing about Paris, they’ve always been an aggressive team with hitters,” Anna Head Coach Tomika Crosby said. “I told the girls coming in, ‘We are going to have to block. We are going to have to mentally get in their heads and stop them by blocking. They’ve always been a strong team. … This is a big win for us because we normally do not beat them.”


She said a big part of the game was keeping up momentum.


“In the beginning we weren’t playing very consistently. … But after that, I told them, ‘We have to be consistent, we have to do the little things, we have to play defense.’ We began to play defense, we got more stops, as far as blocks and digging up the ball. And I think that was the difference — and not missing so many serves.”


Crosby said coming from behind is something the team has worked on.


“In the past they struggled,” she said. “Early on in the year, if we were behind, there was no way we were coming back. But this team has shown that they continue to fight and press through.”


Crosby noted that the Lady Coyotes work on rallying in practice by spotting the junior varsity squad 15 points before attempting a comeback.


In set one versus Paris, which saw seven ties, an Oonk kill gave the Lady Coyotes their first lead, 15-14. Anna trailed again, 23-19, before tying things at 24 and moving ahead, 25-24, on Van Norman’s kill. Van Norman then closed out the set with another kill.


Paris jumped out early again in set two, though Anna would tie things at 10 on an Oonk punch-kill before succumbing.


Set three like set one, was close throughout after Paris led early. A Cornelius service ace gave Anna its first lead, 8-7, before two Oonk kills and one by junior Taylor Medrick pushed the margin to 11-7. Paris recovered to tie at 14 before four kills by Van Norman down the stretch, including the set winner, proved decisive.


The Lady Coyotes dominated set four, with leads of 5-0, 11-2 and 16-5, before Medrick’s service ace closed out the match.


“As district approaches we’re finally starting to find that group that works well together,” Crosby said. “So I am a little bit more confident than I was before, three or four weeks ago, when I wasn’t quite sure about the mix of girls.”


On Friday, Sept. 23, Anna opened district play with a three-set rout of Bonham at home, 25-14, 25-11, 25-9.


“A great district start,” Crosby said. “We were aggressive and consistent on offense and played solid defense.”


In this match that was over quickly, Van Norman led Anna with nine kills, Barnes tallied a team-high 19 set assists and Oonk collected a Lady Coyotes-best five digs.