Lady Cats take down Paris in three games
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Sept. 22, 2004 - The Sulphur Springs Lady Cats almost succumbed to a second game letdown Tuesday night. Almost.

After sweeping to a first-game victory over Paris, 25-16, the Lady Cats came from eight points down to win game two, 26-24, then finished off their Lamar County visitors in game three, 25-19, in the District 12-4A opener for both teams.

The Lady Cats joined North Lamar, who beat Mount Pleasant in three straight games, and Greenville, a five-game winner over Texas High, as opening-day victors.

Sulphur Springs (10-9, 1-0) had some problems in the recent past with game two, but the Lady Cats surged from an 11-19 - including three straight points after Paris was serving for game-point - to put Paris (4-15, 0-1) away.

"Our focus was to start off strong and keep it strong through the second game, because in the past we've been kind of dropping off and letting down," said senior Stephanie Kethley, who had four kills. "We wanted to keep our focus through the whole thing and just stay as a team, stay together, play together and communicate.

In the second game and third games, we had to pull together as a team. That's how we came back."

In the pivotal second game, it didn't hurt to have junior Marlee Peugh serve five straight winning points, with the finale two points coming on consecutive kills by senior Christina Patchen to pull the Lady Cats to within 21-22. Patchen finished with eight kills, tying for the team lead with junior Tara Gibby.

After trading points with Paris, the Lady Cats tied the game at 24-24 on a kill by senior NeNe Hynson, and then won it on two straight serves by senior Betsy Blount.

"The girls played really well. The came out and played exceptionally well the first game," said SSHS head coach John McCullough. "Then, we had our second game blow-up for some reason. We don't start off very well the second game.

"But, the girls, to their credit, did come back. Then, they put them away in the third game."

In the final game, the Lady Cats broke open a close game at 20-19 with Gibby serving the final four points, helped out by a block in the middle by sophomore Kayla Morgan.

Morgan had three blocks, as the Lady Cats had 10 total, led by Gibby with four and Hynson with three.

Watson led the team in service points with 18, including an eight-point run in the first game that gave the Lady Cats a seven-point lead at 18-11. She also ended up with 11 assists, three digs and four kills.

Peugh had 10 points with five aces and four digs, while Blount had six assists.

Casey Carper led the team with seven digs on a night when the back row didn't get as much action as usual.

"Overall, defensively we did well. We didn't hit the ball as well as we had been, but part of that was by design," McCullough said. "The way Paris played defense left some tips open, so we tried to mix it up. NeNe Hynson had a couple of great tips for kills right over the front blockers."

The Lady Cats got several of their kills on dinks and tips, then used the powerful spiking of Gibby in the middle and Patchen on the outside to change things up.

"It's difficult to spike hard one time then come back and tip it the next, but I thought the girls did a good job of trying different techniques," McCullough said.

The Lady Cats will host Texas High on Friday afternoon, in between the pep rally at the school and the homecoming football game that night. The varsity teams will start the three-game action at 4:30 p.m., with the JV and freshmen to follow.

The pep rally is at 2:50 p.m., with the pre-game homecoming festivities starting at 6:45, followed by the 7:30 p.m. kick off between Sulphur Springs and Lancaster.

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