Lady Cats ride momentum to pivotal win over Greenville
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Oct. 6, 2004 - GREENVILLE - One game after not being able to keep momentum on their side last Friday, the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats welcomed it like an old friend Tuesday night in a pivotal game in the closely-bunched world of District 12-4A.

The Lady Cats (12-11) strung together at least one long service streak in each game, including the final eight points of game two, to take a 25-21, 25-20, 25-22 win over Greenville.

Coupled with North Lamar's three-game sweep of Texas High, the Lady Cats' win puts them in a tie for second place in 12-4A with Texarkana. Both teams are 3-2 in loop play.

They are two games behind North Lamar (5-0) and one game ahead of both Mount Pleasant and Greenville (2-3). Paris is in the district cellar at 0-5.

The most convincing string of points by the Lady Cats came at the end of game two, when Greenville had taken a 20-17 lead by winning three of the previous four points. But, momentum is a curious thing.

SSHS senior Christina Patchen broke Greenville's run with a kill, then junior Tara Gibby served seven straight service points, punctuated by two kills from sophomore Kayla Morgan including the game-winner, as the Lady Cats completed the comeback in rousing style.

It was quite a turnaround from last Friday, when the Lady Cats couldn't sustain any momentum against North Lamar. Morgan, who battled Greenville sophomore middle blocker Jackie Jones throughout the match, said the Lady Cats changed not only some technical aspects, but their mental approach as well.

"We were focusing on hitting harder and hitting down, because at the North Lamar game we were patty-caking it over, and our blocking was really off. Mainly, we were worked on the mental errors at the net," she said. "We got really excited tonight. It was fun. Tonight wasn't as stressful as the North Lamar game. We played for fun tonight."

Morgan ended with a game-high seven blocks to go with four kills. Gibby added a team-high 11 kills and eight points, while Patchen had nine kills and seven points, and junior Marlee Peugh served a team-best 13 points with one ace.

SSHS coach John McCullough said the team focused on making their push when Greenville's Jones was in the back row and not at the net. Jones had 12 kills and two blocks.

"Early on, she (Jones) was doing a good job of getting some kills against us. Then, Kayla starting putting the wall up and getting some great blocks, and that altered what they were doing," McCullough said.

"We talked about taking advantage when their big sophomore was in the back row, and we did that each game last night. What happens is, they didn't have a dominant hitter in the front row. When she got in the back row, we served to her, and that had someone else hitting, and they didn't get a good set sometimes or a good hit. Then, we were able to take advantage of that to get our good kills."

In the first game, the Lady Cats strung together six straight points, behind the serving of Peugh and three straight spikes by junior Hailey Watson, senior NeNe Hynson and Gibby. Watson finished with a team-high 15 assists to go with seven kills, and Hynson had four assists and two kills.

That gave the Lady Cats a 13-7 lead. Though Greenville got to within one point on three different occasions, the last at 21-20, SSHS put the game away on an ace by senior Betsy Blount and a game-ending spike by Morgan. Blount finished with nine assists and two kills and was valuable by digging the ball out of the net three times to preserve the volley.

In game two, SSHS and the Lady Lions swapped points for most of the game until Greenville took a 20-17 lead on two straight kills by junior Blanca Saavedra. But, the Lady Cats won the pivotal game with the final eight points.

"The way the momentum can change is unbelievable," McCullough said. "It's crazy how the momentum works. When we made that run, their big hitter was in the back row, and I emphasized to the girls that now is the time to make the run. To the girls' credit, they focused right then. They knew they could take control of the game right then, and they did."

In game three, Peugh once again served the Lady Cats to an 8-0 run in the middle of the game to take a 15-8 lead. The run started with an ace and consisted of a block and two kills by Gibby, two kills by Patchen and three straight assists by Hynson, who is normally not a setter.

"Overall, we had a great game. As a team, the girls did a great job of working together," McCullough said. "When you have athletes like that, and they put it together, it looks great."

The Lady Cats travel to Paris on Friday with the freshmen and JV games starting at 5 p.m. and the varsity to follow.

JUNIOR VARSITY

The Lady Cat JV improved to 3-2 in district play as well (12-13 overall) with a 25-23, 25-21 victory.

Laura Ream had a team-high 11 points with seven aces, nine digs and seven assists to go along with three kills, while Tarra Morton contributed four kills and a block, and Brandi Laine added six points and four assists.

Brittany Moore recorded eight digs and two kills, Jordan Anderson added six points, Katie McCarty had a kill and two digs, and Whitney Rogers recorded two points and five digs.

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