ANNA — Defending district champion Celina powered past Anna’s Lady Coyotes in straight sets, 25-13, 25-17, 25-17, on Friday, Oct. 6, though Anna showed spunk and battled the Lady Bobcats hard.

“We were kind of scrappy tonight, we dug up some balls,” Lady Coyotes head coach Tomika Crosby said. “And we got more blocks tonight, I think, than we’ve been getting in the past. The girls were a little bit more aggressive at the net, running the offense. Tonight, I told the girls I’m proud. They played. We still have to eliminate those little mistakes.”

Celina head coach Michele Tucker said she was pleased to see her team display good fundamentals as well as mental toughness. “We just came off a loss on Tuesday against Melissa. It was kind of an eye-opener. We were walking through district pretty well, winning in three [sets]. It got to a point where we were pressed and they came ready to work in practice. I think they’re a little bit more hungry now.”

Now at the midpoint of the District 11-4A race, Celina (4-1) remains knotted in first place with Melissa and Aubrey while Anna (1-4) stays locked with Bonham and Princeton. “Every night is a battle,” Tucker said. “It’s not just those teams that are 4-1. Every night is very important. I think we have probably the biggest target on our back because last year we were district champions.”

Junior Hannah Howell led the Lady Coyotes with five kills and senior libero Micaela Cornelius tallied a team-high 13 digs. Senior Taylor Medrick, senior Julianne Curiel and sophomore Alana Pina followed with four digs each for Anna. The Lady Coyotes’ set-assist leader was sophomore Haley Thornburg, with six, while junior Bella Boyd posted five.

Anna broke on top in Set 1, but the Lady Bobcats recovered to take their first lead at 5-4. Celina stretched the margin to 8-4 before the Lady Coyotes responded with a kill from sophomore Lexi Stewart and a combo-block by Stewart and junior Fekyra Wells. From there, the Lady Bobcats took charge with two kills and two aces en route to a 17-7 advantage. Celina’s 17th point came after a nice back-handed deep save from Cornelius.

Down the stretch, the margin swelled to 23-11, with only single kills from junior Lauren Schlicht and Stewart slowing the Lady Bobcats’ march. An Anna hitting error ended the set.

Though Celina opened Set 2 with a 4-0 lead, the Lady Coyotes soon showed this frame would be different. Back-to-back Medrick kills and another from Stewart led Anna’s charge to 4-4 before Medrick’s net-kissing service ace tied it again, at 6-6. The Lady Coyotes then took the lead, 8-7, on Stewart’s block — after a nice dig by Cornelius — followed by a Howell kill and two Celina errors that boosted the Lady Coyotes’ margin to 11-7. The Lady Bobcats answered with back-to-back aces and consecutive kills on the way to a 13-11 lead but Anna would stay close, at 17-15, after Howell swatted a deep kill. From there, the Lady Bobcats erupted for four kills and two aces to lead, 24-17. A final Celina ace concluded the set.

Set 3 was knotted at 5-5 after another Wells/Stewart block but a cross-court kill put the Lady Bobcats back up, 8-6. Celina next popped to 9-6 lead after Pina’s diving save for Anna went for naught, but the Lady Coyotes would rally to tie it at 11-11 after Cornelius’ ace and a Medrick block. Two kills and an ace from the Bobcats sent Anna to a timeout, down, 14-11. Howell’s kill later made a dandy Cornelius dig pay off and Anna trailed, 17-13. Soon, though, a 5-0 Lady Bobcats run effectively ended the Lady Coyotes’ hopes. The lead surged to 24-15 on a sharp Celina ace to the floor and, after Schlicht’s tip-over kill and a final big-swing from Medrick, the Lady Bobcats closed it out with a big swing of their own.