Volleyball team wins playoff

Kilgore High School's varsity volleyball team won its first playoff game since the 1990s Tuesday night at Wills Point, coming back from an 0-2 deficit to top North Lamar in five sets. Kilgore (20-14) has advanced to round two, or the area round, of the UIL Class 4A playoffs. They'll face Farmersville on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Edgewood. (Photo courtesy of CHRISTY McELYEA and AMY BATES)

Kilgore High School volleyball turned away the critics at the door all season – the ones who said they wouldn’t make the playoffs, wouldn’t compete with Bullard in district, and wouldn’t win a playoff game.

Check, check, and now, check.

The Lady Bulldogs came back from an 0-2 deficit to beat North Lamar at Wills Point on Tuesday night, in the first, or bi-district, round of the University Interscholastic League’s Class 4A playoffs.

Kilgore got its 20th win of the season, and coach Madeline Harris got her first playoff win here. They’re 20-14, and will play Farmersville in an area, or second-round, game on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Edgewood.

The win over North Lamar marked a couple of milestones: it was Kilgore volleyball’s first playoff win since the 1990s, and allowed them a measure of revenge over North Lamar. Tuesday night in Wills Point was the third meeting between the Lady Bulldogs and North Lamar since 2015, all in the playoffs, and the first two both went to North Lamar.

Not this time.

It started out poorly for Kilgore. North Lamar won the first two sets, 21-25, 19-25. It looked, honestly, like another Kilgore playoff collapse.

And then something happened.

Set three was a monster, a 31-29 marathon that went Kilgore’s way. Kilgore trailed 17-14 in that set. North Lamar served into the net (point for KHS) and then Kilgore’s Ashton Vallery notched an ace.

That turned the momentum in a big way.

NL led 26-25, then 27-26, and 28-27. Kilgore would not go away. The Lady Bulldogs took a 29-28 lead, and NL tied it up. But Jada Abercrombie ended the match with point 31, a block.

The fourth set was similar, back and forth. Kilgore finally went up 26-25, and then won, 28-26.

In the fifth and final set, North Lamar took an early 4-2 lead, and ultimately led 10-5 before Kilgore came roaring back. Kilgore tied it, and then NL got within a point – 14-12 – of ending the Lady ‘Dogs and their playoff hopes.

But Kilgore scored four straight points for the win. Abercrombie had a punctuation-mark kill for point 15, and North Lamar’s final strike at the ball sailed out of bounds, giving Kilgore the 16-14 set win, and the playoff win.

Kilgore had 45 kills in the matchup, and Abercrombie led with 25. Miah Thomas had nine, Skye Cotton, six, Dayton McElyea and Alexis Anderson two each, and Lauren Couch, one. Thomas had six blocks, Abercrombie had four, and Anderson had two. McElyea had 23 assists; Vallery had 19; and the Lady ‘Dogs combined for 89 digs as a team. Thomas and A’viana McIntyre each had 15; Abercrombie had 13; McElyea had 12; Couch and Skyler Day each had 11; Vallery had nine; Cotton had two; and Anderson had one.

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