They’ll face everyone again in round two, but for now, the Kilgore High School Lady Bulldogs are the first ones to the top of the mountain.
The KHS volleyball team served notice Friday afternoon to previous district leader and defending champion Bullard, knocking the visiting Lady Panthers from the top of the District 16-4A standings with a 25-20, 25-18, 15-25, 25-22 win.
The victory was Kilgore’s fifth straight, and also Bullard’s first loss; both came in the final game of the first round of district play. In addition to those two programs, Henderson, Gilmer, Spring Hill, Cumberland Academy and Chapel Hill are all in the district, and that’s the exact order Kilgore will face them, beginning this coming week.
Coach Madeline Harris’s Kilgore team (14-12 overall) has an open date Tuesday, then hosts Henderson (in the Pink-Out game) next Friday, a 4:30 p.m. varsity start. This round, Kilgore will be at home for Henderson, Spring Hill and Chapel Hill, but will hit the road to Gilmer, Cumberland (in Tyler) and finally Bullard, where there will be a rematch of arguably the biggest win for the Kilgore volleyball program in at least a quarter-century.
Friday afternoon, in front of a raucous crowd of mostly Kilgore fans, Bullard just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – and the time was right for an upset.
The Lady ‘Dogs somewhat shockingly won a quickly-played first set, and then scored the final five points of a second set, a statement that put Bullard back on its heels: one set away from being swept.
The Lady Panthers fought back, and tied the game up with a statement of their own: we’re the champions, and you’re going to have to take it from us. They beat Kilgore, 25-15, in set three.
But this time, it was Kilgore that rose to the occasion, rallying back from an early deficit to take the lead, and then, after breaking a 19-all tie, then another tie at 22, scored the final three points for the win.
Lauren Couch had her best game of the season so far: 11 kills and 18 digs. Miah Thomas had 14 kills and 12 digs, and Jada Abercrombie had eight kills and 10 digs. Abercrombie, Alexis Anderson and Thomas each had two blocks. Ashton Vallery had 22 assists, and Dayton McElyea had 17.
As mentioned, it was Kilgore’s fifth straight win overall after the Lady Bulldogs lost to Henderson to start the district schedule. But Kilgore hasn’t lost at home since August.
Sabine: As Kilgore continues its rise, another area program is having a historic season, and added to its already-large win total Friday night.
Sabine, coached by Kristen Reaves, swept yet another District 16-3A opponent on Friday, beating Winona, 25-7, 25-9, 25-8. Sabine is now 31-5 this season, and 7-0 in district play, with no signs of slowing.
The Lady Cardinals still have a large portion of the regular season schedule remaining (seven games between now and Oct. 29), but they’ll be home twice this coming week: against White Oak on Tuesday at 4:30, starting with freshmen, and then against Gladewater next Friday, Oct. 11, beginning with varsity.
In the win over Winona, Aubree McCann had 13 kills. Samantha Bell had eight, and Mikinzi Cantrell, seven. Maddie Furrh had six, Ryanne Stuart had two, and Sierrah Richter had one. Richter had 27 assists and 10 aces.
McCann had three blocks; Stuart had two. Caitlin Bates had eight digs; McCann, five, and Bell, four.
Leverett’s Chapel: The Lady Lions had rebounded somewhat from an 0-3 start in district to win their last two games, but they ran into a tough Hawkins team on the road on Friday.
LC dropped the matchup, 18-25, 16-25, 22-25, and is now 2-4 in district play as a result. The Lady Lions are 14-13 overall, and will host Big Sandy on Tuesday, starting at 5 p.m.
Jillian Shaw had nine kills and nine digs for LC against Hawkins. Lexus Haley had three kills, three digs and seven assists. Michelle Jamaica had three kills, 22 digs and two aces.