Lady Cats use fifth-game magic
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Sept. 8, 2004 - PARIS - Through the first four games on Tuesday night, whichever team scored first between the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats and Chisum ended up losing the game.

The Lady Cats made sure that didn't happen in the deciding fifth game.

Sulphur Springs took a 3-1 lead to start the fifth game, then finished it off by winning six of the final seven points, including an ace by senior Christina Patchen on match point.

It culminated a five-game win over Chisum, the fifth-ranked team in Class 2A, by scores of 21-25, 25-23, 25-27, 25-19, 15-9.

"Their team was pretty awesome. We knew they were rated kind of high, and that was in our minds," said Patchen, who finished the match with nine kills, two blocks and a team-high 16 service points. "But, we wanted to show that it didn't matter what they were ranked. We wanted to come in and beat them, and we did.

"We've been wanting a win all weekend, but we didn't have our best games. Today, we came out and played, and we won and it was great."

Hailey Watson added 14 points and six aces to go along with a team-high 13 assists. Marlee Peugh recorded 10 points, Stephanie Kethley added a team-high 10 kills, Tara Gibby contributed seven kills, and Betsy Blount had seven assists and six points.

"Overall teamwork was what I was impressed with last night," said SSHS head coach John McCullough. "The back row play of Casey Carper and Marlee Peugh making outstanding digs to keep balls alive, and Betsy Blount did a great job of playing tips to keep things alive."

That was typified in game four, with the Lady Cats already leading 17-7. A hard spike by Chisum was dug out by Carper, but the ball went high into the rafters and came down near the back wall of the gym. Peugh raced over, and sent it back toward the net, where it was bumped over by Patchen.

That in the midst of a 15-4 run by the Lady Cats that tied the match at two games apiece. McCullough was confident that if Sulphur Springs could get to a game five they would win - even after losing a tough 25-27 game three.

"That's what we've done this year. If we get to game five, we normally win." McCullough said. 'I think that has to do a lot with our conditioning. The girls are in good shape.

"They feel like if they get to game five, they're going to win. That's very important when we get to district. There are a lot of teams in our district that are probably pretty close, so there may be a lot of game fives. In the non-district schedule, if we're winning games when we get to game five, I think that's going to carry over when we get to district. It'll be a positive for us."

Game five was the only one in which the final score wasn't close.

In game one, the Lady Mustangs used the hard spiking of Brittany Strickland to take a four-point win. The Lady Cats also missed four serves.

"The first game, we have four missed serves and lost the game by four points. I told the girls we'd win the game if we get our serves in," McCullough said. "We only had four missed serves the rest of the match and had 16 aces."

The Lady Cats hung on for a two-point win in game two with Kethley getting an important kill where her spike hit the end line to give SSHS a 22-20 lead. A final cross-court kill by Watson ended the game.

Despite the tough game three loss, Kayla Morgan played well for the Lady Cats, notching four of her six kills on the night. The Lady Cats fought back from a four-point deficit at 10-14 to take a 20-19 lead on a textbook dig by Carper, set by Blount and spike from Gibby.

With the momentum, Chisum started game four with an 0-2 lead, but the Lady Cats came back, behind the serving of Patchen to score four straight points. In that run, Chisum lost outside hitter Shameka Savage, who had 12 kills, to an ankle injury. She would return for game five, but did not have a kill.

The Lady Cats used the opportunity to go on an 18-5 run that put them ahead, 18-7. Peugh had four service points in the run. Though Chisum got back to within five points at 23-18 behind the spiking of Shannon Nelson (11 kills), SSHS closed out that game and then ran away with game five.

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