ANNA — Anna’s Lady Coyotes faced a tough task on Oct. 8: try to get their first district win against the one team left in District 11-4A with no losses — Celina. While the Lady Coyotes scrapped aplenty, the aggressive, veteran Lady Bobcats (4-0) proved too much — claiming this straight-set victory at Anna High School, 25-14, 25-12, 25-13.
“I knew they were going to be a solid team,” Lady Coyotes head coach Tomika Crosby said of senior-laden Celina. “I told our girls that we’re going to have to play better at the net, get some stops at the net. And if it gets past the net, we’ve got to be ready to dig those balls up. … I also told them that they have aggressive servers and they put the ball everywhere. I was really hoping we were going to come in … and be able to adjust to those things.”
Now nearing the midpoint of the district slate, Crosby said she’ll be reviewing each of her team’s district games to date to pinpoint specific weaknesses. Defense and serve-receive, she noted, appear to be two of them.
“We have a lot of girls that, at moments, get frustrated. I thought we were working through that … and tonight there were moments we didn’t and it hurt us two or three points. Against a team like Celina, you don’t get to give up two or three points.”
This one had some potential to be trap game for Celina, which was coming off an intense week featuring big wins over Melissa and Aubrey. Lady Bobcats head coach Ginger Murray said she mainly told her team to stay focused. “We’re always going to have our ups and downs. We’ve got some injuries right now that are nagging. I’ve got one girl that was sick tonight. They pushed through it, though – the pain and the yuckiness.”
Murray, though, was not able to empty her bench against the spunky Lady Coyotes. “I was going to work my others in,” she said, “but every time we would get a good lead, Anna would fight right back. That’s always been the deal with Anna. They’re just scrappy and they always fight.”
Aubreanna Traylor knocked down a team-high six kills for the Lady Coyotes, while teammates Lexi Stewart, Rachel Goade and Qua Fisher each collected three. Stewart also logged Anna’s two solo blocks. Fisher led the team in digs with eight and Alana Pina posted six. Haley Thornburg tallied eight set-assists and Gracie Goade posted six. Pina also recorded the Lady Coyotes’ lone service ace.
Celina charged to a 5-0 lead in Set 1 but Traylor’s middle kill and a Pina ace helped get the Lady Coyotes back in it at 9-7. Fisher’s outside swing to the deep right corner kept Anna close at 11-8 before Stewart’s monster middle block made it 13-9. But from there Celina took separation, moving out to an 18-10 advantage with multiple kills from both sides of the court. Down the stretch, Gracie Goade and Traylor provided single kills as the Lady Bobcats’ lead grew to 24-12. An Anna ball to the net concluded the set.
In Set 2, Celina went up for good at 3-2 and soon hit 10-3, boosted by four-straight kills. Traylor’s kill from the right side stopped that push before Stewart’s big swing from the outside had Anna’s deficit at 12-5. After a Rachel Goade block got the Lady Coyotes within 14-7, a string of Anna hitting errors helped send Celina’s advantage to 19-8. Traylor’s kill to the deep middle followed but another Lady Bobcats’ hitting barrage punched the lead to 23-11. Ariel Aronow logged Anna’s final point of the set before Celina closed it out with a roll-tip from the outside.
The Lady Coyotes showed spark in Set 3, pushing to a 4-2 lead with kills by Gracie and Rachel Goade. Celina tied it at 4-all with an ace but Kodi Pitre’s block-kill to the deep middle gave Anna the lead again. After back-to-back Lady Bobcat kills put Celina up 9-5, Traylor’s right-side kill and another middle block by Stewart drew Anna to within two points. Consecutive Stewart kills and one from Gracie Goade on the outside had the Lady Coyotes within striking distance, down 13-10, but Celina soon controlled things, 18-12.
Anna’s final kill of the night — a big swing from Traylor to the back row — made it 19-13 but the Lady Bobcats surged for six-straight points to end the match.
On Friday, the Lady Coyotes got that first district win at Gainesville, sweeping the Lady Leopards (0-5) by counts of 25-17, 25-21, 25-13. Rachel Goade fired a team-high five service aces and Pina and Stewart each logged two. Stewart and Traylor led in kills with nine each while Fisher dug up 12 balls followed by Pina with 11. Thornburg put up a team-high 13 assists for Anna (1-4) and Gracie Goade added 12.