Final game comes up aces for Lady Cats
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

August 25, 2004 - EMORY - Tied at 7-7 in the fifth and deciding game of their non-district match with Rains on Tuesday, things started coming up aces for the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats.

Tara Gibby broke the tie with ace, putting together eight straight points which included two more aces, to propel Sulphur Springs to a win in the fifth game, 15-8, to improve to 4-5 on the season.

"Anytime you get an ace, you can get the other team flustered and then try to find holes where they can't get to it," said Gibby, a 5-8 junior. "When they are running around, it gives us a better chance to get something set up."

The Lady Cats were able to put together runs in the first and fourth games, which they also won by scores of 25-18 and 25-21. It was senior Betsy Blount, who got in all 20 of her serves and scored a team-high 14 points, who led those rallies. Christina Patchen added eight points on 16-of-16 serving.

Gibby led the team with eight kills, while Hailey Watson and senior Stephanie Kethley contributed five each. Kethley also played a superb game on the back row, along with classmates Christina Patchen and Casey Carper. Kethley finished with a team-high 22 digs, while Carper added 11.

Watson and Blount led the team in assists with 10 and six, respectively.

SSHS head coach John McCullough was pleased with his girls' intensity, especially at the beginning and the end the match.

"We talked about focus this week. After the tournament last week, I didn't think we played as well as we should have, and I think a lot of that had to do with the focus," he said. "We came in really focused that first game, but we slacked off in the second and third. The girls, though, came back and played hard in the fourth and fifth to win those."

The first game turned on an extended run Blount's serving brought the Lady Cats back from a 13-11 deft to an 18-14 lead. Watson had a kill during the run and then finished the game with four straight serves after Rains had pulled to within 21-18.

Rains was led by middle blocker Kaley Hoover (10 kills, five blocks) and outside hitter Heather Roberts (six kills, one block) as they won the next two games, 25-14, 25-18. The Lady Cats received kills from Jennifer Moreland and Cassie McClendon in the third game, but couldn't draw closer than five points after Rains broke a 6-6 deadlock.

Marlee Peugh was a bright spot for SSHS in the third and fourth games, scoring six points off serves.

"We got all our serves in but eight. The girls have really been working on that in practice," McCullough said. "The blocking still has a ways to go. Our timing's not there. Our passing and defense is our strong point, and we're going to keep building on that."

In the deciding fifth game, it was the serves and intensity that proved to be the winning combination.

"The first game we did really good," Gibby said. "Then, the second and third games, it looked like there were more ready than we were to win those games. But, the last game, we came back and got on a roll and got our heads up. We were able to get them down and get going."

The Lady Cats return to the court Friday and Saturday at the Wills Point Tournament. They are scheduled to play three pool games on Friday: against Wills Point at 1:45, Lufkin at 3:15 and Frankston at 4 p.m.

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