ANNA - Anna’s Lady Coyotes needed just three sets to stop Whitewright on Tuesday, Aug. 29, in non-district volleyball action at Anna High School. After trailing briefly in each set, the Lady Coyotes came back to post 25-18, 25-10, 25-20 wins.
Sophomore Haley Thornburg’s 11 aces led an improved service attack for Anna, with junior Hannah Howell striking for 10. “We had less missed serves,” Lady Coyotes head coach Tomika Crosby said. “And the girls were able to do some things I’ve been asking them to do in regard to running a couple of plays that I called. There were some positives.”
Crosby noted, though, that her team must work on staying focused. “We play different types of teams,” she said. “Sometimes, when it’s not a very aggressive team, we don’t know how to adapt to that and stay focused for that. We’re always ready for that fast-paced, swing-swing-swing all the time. Those are things we need to work on - staying focused and being able to finish games. If you have the lead, finish the games.”
Senior Taylor Medrick led Anna (10-11) with 15 kills, while junior Bella Boyd collected 12 set-assists and Thornburg tallied 11. Defensively for the Lady Coyotes, senior libero Micaela Cornelius registered a team-high 12 digs.
On a negative note, Anna junior Lauren Schlicht went down during warm-ups with what appeared to be an ankle injury. She was helped from the gym and did not return. Crosby said the extent of Schlicht’s injury was not yet known.
In Set 1, Whitewright’s only lead was 1-0. That’s when Anna stormed to an 8-3 advantage on two service aces from Boyd, two Medrick kills, a kill from sophomore Lexi Stewart and a Howell ace.
Five Anna errors and two Whitewright kills later, the set was knotted at 10-10. Two kill shots from Stewart and another from Howell sparked the Lady Coyotes to a 15-12 lead before a Lady Tiger’s kill caught Medrick in the face, cutting the deficit to 15-14. Medrick came back, teamed with Howell, for a block that boosted Anna’s margin to 18-14.
Junior Lauren Morrison’s kill gave the Lady Coyotes a 19-15 lead, setting the stage for a 5-0 Anna run that all but ended the set. During that decisive turn, Thornburg rolled to three-straight aces, Cornelius’ diving dig kept alive a volley Anna would win and Medrick had another kill. A Whitewright service fault closed out the set.
In Set 2, the Class 3A Lady Tigers’ early lead was 3-0 before Anna answered back. Another Boyd ace and Howell’s tip-over kill aided the Lady Coyotes’ push to a 6-3 advantage. Consecutive kill-strokes by Anna sophomore Rachel Goade shot the margin to 13-8 before kills from Medrick and Stewart doubled-up the Lady Tigers at 18-9.
After a lengthy referee seminar on a contested point — and a Whitewright timeout — Goade popped another kill and Medrick served up “ace punch” to send the lead to 20-9. Anna junior Fekyra Wells then stepped up with a block and a kill and the Lady Tigers’ deficit was 23-9.
On set point, an over-the-back save from Howell kept a volley going until Anna prevailed.
Whitewright (6-4) staked a 4-0 lead in Set 3 only to see it vanish too. Two kills from Medrick, a Morrison block and Howell’s ace sparked the Lady Coyotes to a 6-6 tie. Medrick’s kill for Anna’s first lead of the set, at 7-6, was overruled when a Whitewright player’s lengthy protestations got the call reversed. Medrick responded with consecutive kills — the first, a howitzer for good measure — for an 8-7 Lady Coyotes advantage. Anna would not trail again.
Back-to-back aces from Thornburg pushed the Lady Coyotes’ lead to 11-7, and Stewart’s tip-kill made it 17-10. Whitewright would claw back to within 23-20, boosted by three kills and three aces, but it wasn’t enough.