Following a pre-district season where the Aledo varsity volleyball squad went 19-7, the Ladycats have officially entered District 5-5A play with matches against Northwest and Granbury under their belts.
Northwest defeated the hosting Ladycats in straight sets 20-25, 15-25, and 21-25 in the district opener on Friday, Sept. 9. Aledo rebounded against the Lady Pirates at home on Tuesday, Sept. 12, taking the match in four sets by tallies of 25-18, 25-9, 22-25, and 25-21 to square their district record at 1-1 while boasting a 20-8 overall record.
“We’ve got a lot to work on,” head coach Claire Gay said of her troop after the win over Granbury. “We had a very good, tough preseason. I felt like in the preseason we came to play every day in practice. We came to play in the match. I feel like we get to this point, and we’re starting to coast a little bit. That’s not necessarily the mindset we need to have moving forward in the part of our season that matters the most.”
The coasting Gay alluded to came in the third set of Tuesday’s match with Granbury. The Ladycats handled business in short order during the first two sets as they dominated the visiting squad. After running away with the second set with little resistance from the Lady Pirates, the match appeared to be all but over.
But as the Ladycats took their foot off the proverbial accelerator, Granbury continued to battle. After being decimated in sets 1 and 2, the Lady Pirates took an early advantage in the third set as they began to build some momentum.
On the other side of the net, the Ladycats struggled to find their groove once more. Small mistakes began to snowball as the home team found themselves in the unfamiliar position of playing catch-up. Late in the set the Ladycats ran out of subs, leaving smaller backline players to tend the net as the Lady Pirates plundered the set to add an air of drama to the match.
Still struggling to re-establish the fluid mode of play they’d rode to easy victories early in the match, the Ladycats gutted out a gritty performance with Ava Reding tacking on the final three points from behind the service line for Aledo to secure the match.
“We’ve got to get back to work,” Gay said. “Mentality-wise, we’ve got to get back the intensity level and do better at managing ball games.”
Kinley Elms led the Ladycat offensive attack with 20 kills during the match.
Alyssa Todd, who is usually featured closer to the net, played more in the backcourt on Tuesday as she led the team in digs with 30. Late in the fourth set she returned to her outside hitter position where she played a crucial role in securing the Ladycat victory. Though her time near the net was short-lived, she managed to make the most of it, securing 19 kills on the night.
Kenrie Pruitt had another excellent game as the libero with 24 digs to her credit. Morgan Estevez and Sophia Frank both ended up with double-digit digs as well, as they finished the night with 15 and 10, respectively.
Frank (23) and Reding (20) combined for 43 assists in the match as the Ladycat offense went almost exclusively through the two of them.
Defensively, Haley Lowe tacked on five more blocks to her season total, giving her 65 to this point in the year. Ella Isbell, Kaelee Berkley, and Skyler Lambert had three blocks a piece, as well.
Northwest continued to be the one equation the Ladycats couldn’t find an answer for when the two squads met to start district play. The Lady Texans went undefeated against Aledo during the 2022 campaign, and picked up right where they left off in 2023.
Berkley and Elms led the Ladycats in kills on the night with eight each. Pruitt picked up 18 digs, while Frank found 15 of her own and led Aledo in assists with 18. Logyn Denbrow led the team in aces in the match with three to her credit from behind the service line. Isbell secured three blocks while minding the net against the Lady Texan charge.
The Ladycats hit the road on Friday, Sept. 15 as District 5-5A action continues in Azle. That match against the Lady Hornets is slated for a 6 p.m. start.
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