WHITESBORO — Anna’s Lady Coyotes traveled north on Tuesday, Sept. 12, for another volleyball match with Whitesboro — the second non-district meeting between the two squads this season. But, as in the previous meeting, the Lady Bearcats prevailed — this time in four sets, by scores of 25-18, 23-25, 25-18, 25-19. With the loss, Anna’s season record moved to 12-13.
“They are a very aggressive team,” Lady Coyotes head coach Tomika Crosby said of Class 3A Whitesboro. “They’re going to hit the ball and they’re going to block. They play defense very well. And I know when we’ve hit in the past they would dig our balls up. I knew that we were going to have to play smart and kind of mix up the game, as far as our aggressive swings and tipping the ball. … I thought we were a little bit more aggressive hitting tonight and it paid off at times.”
Anna junior Bella Boyd collected a team-high 27 set-assists and big-swinging junior Hannah Howell popped for 13 kills, as senior Taylor Medrick logged nine solo blocks. Dig-wise, senior libero Micaela Cornelius tallied 15 while Medrick, Howell and junior Lauren Schlicht each posted six.
Whitesboro led Set 1 the whole way, save for ties at 7-7 and 10-10. Three Anna hitting errors sent the margin to 13-10 before sophomore Lexi Stewart’s kill and a Boyd service ace drew the Lady Coyotes to within 16-15. Howell’s kill kept Anna close at 19-16 and a Schlicht block made it 23-18, but the Lady Bearcats closed it out with a kill and a Lady Coyotes error.
Anna took charge early in Set 2, leading, 12-7, after consecutive kills from Howell and Stewart. The Lady Coyotes still led, 14-9, when Whitesboro reeled off 10 straight points for a 19-14 advantage. The barrage included four service aces and two kills, and survived an Anna timeout at its midpoint. Howell ended the surge with a kill, followed by a Stewart ace. Another kill from Howell and Anna trailed, 19-18. With that, the Lady Coyotes pulled away with two Medrick kills and a kill and a block from Howell to lead, 24-19. The Lady Bearcats rallied to 24-23 before Medrick’s sharp kill ended it.
“That one server, she served 10 straight points,” Crosby said of Whitesboro’s 10-0 run in that set. “Ten. I told the girls, ‘We can’t do that. Going into our district, there are some teams that have jump servers that are very aggressive. We’re going to be facing that and we’ve got to figure out a way to still be able to make a pass, still make a play on that.’”
Set 3 was nip-and-tuck early on, with four ties en route to 10-10. A diving save by Anna senior Julianne Curiel — capped with Medrick’s kill — gave the Lady Coyotes an 11-10 lead. Another kill from Medrick knotted the set for a sixth time, at 12-12. From there, Whitewright moved to an 18-12 margin before Anna sophomore Rachel Goade answered with a kill down the line. But down the stretch, a Howell kill, Medrick’s block and a dual Howell/Medrick block could not overcome six Lady Coyote hitting errors.
In decisive Set 4, Schlicht’s kill and another Howell/Medrick combo block had Anna up, 3-1. But the Lady Bearcats would rally through four ties to lead, 11-10, and never trail again. Whitesboro’s advantage swelled to 18-11 after a service ace and two consecutive Anna hitting errors. The Lady Coyotes pushed back with a 7-4 run but after a kill the Lady Bearcats still led, 23-18. Another block from Medrick was Anna’s final point, as the Lady Coyotes sent a ball into the net and one past the back line to end the match.
With the Lady Coyotes’ Sept. 22 district-opener versus Bonham fast-approaching, Crosby said she’s not yet set on a solid rotation. “It’s just a matter of trying to find what works right now. This close to district we should have a set rotation and sadly we don’t. … I’m still willing to try new things. I’m going to try what works and if somebody’s hot that night then I’m going to put them in a position to get the ball.
“I changed the lineup in the second game,” Crosby noted. “Instead of going with the ‘6-2’ [two setters] we went with the ‘5-1’ [one setter], where Bella was setting all the way around. And I moved Lauren in as that rover. I told the girls. ‘You’ve got to be flexible. If I see something’s not working, I’m going to change.’ We changed in the second set and we won.”