Funk records first win as SSHS volleyball coach
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Aug. 16, 2006 - Christi Funk got her first win as the SSHS head volleyball coach Tuesday night, but she had to wait for her inexperienced players to get their collective feet underneath them first.

With only two of the six starters having varsity experience, the Lady Cats came out tentatively against Commerce, losing to the Lady Tigers in four games, before sweeping Clarksville in three games in the nightcap of the doubleheader at Wildcat Gym.

The 25-20, 25-16, 26-24 win over Clarksville gives the Lady Cats some momentum heading into the McKinney North Tournament on Thursday and Saturday. Sulphur Springs will also host Chisum in a varsity-only match at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.

It looked as though it would be a rough evening for the Lady Cats when they opened up the season with a 25-10 loss to Commerce in the opening game. Commerce went on to win two of the next three games, 27-25, 25-27, 25-21, though the Lady Cats began to show Coach Funk they had overcome their first-game jitters.

"I think we learned tonight what intensity we have to come out with at the start of every game. We did tonight in the second match and followed it through," she said. "Definitely those young ones' nerves got the best of them at the beginning, but their natural ability takes over from there.

"We don't want to play like that first game on our home court, absolutely not."

Sulphur Springs had just four service points in the first game against Commerce, two of them from Jordan Anderson, as Commerce broke open a score of 7-6 by scoring 14 of the next 15 points to go up, 21-7.

In Game 2, the Lady Cats took an 8-2 lead behind senior middle blocker Kayla Morgan. In the opening 10 points, she had two blocks, a kill and two aces. Morgan finished with a team-high six blocks to go with five kills and 10 points.

But, Commerce rallied back behind their own middle blocker, Tat Booth, as the Lady Tigers tied the game at 8-8 behind her fifth straight point. From there, Commerce got the lead up to 20-15, but SSHS senior Kristen McDonald's spike off an Anderson assist started a Lady Cat mini-run aided by kills from sophomore Mackenzie Cross and junior Marci Womack. The Lady Cats tied the score at 24-24 off a tip from Elise Rascoe. But, Commerce won three of the final four points to go up 2-0 in the match.

Sulphur Springs got its first win in the next game as neither team could muster more than a three-point lead for the entire game. Commerce went up, 24-22, but couldn't get the match point as Sulphur Springs' Cross sent a left-handed kill down the line to break serve. Morgan then served two points, and Kelsey Evans got the final point when Commerce couldn't return her serve.

In the final game, though, Commerce pulled away from a 12-12 deadlock with five straight points. Sulphur Springs never re-took the lead despite a pair of aces from McDonald and a lunging, one-handed save by sophomore Baleigh Butler late in the game to postpone game point.

Butler had a game-high 11 service points to go with six kills. McDonald led the team with nine kills, Cross had seven kills and libero Brittani Dillard added a pair of back row spikes. Anderson (14 assists) and Evans (11) combined for 25 assists.

Against Clarksville, the Lady Cats were much more aggressive, as Funk said she talked to the players about their focus and intensity between matches.

"We talked about coming out the intensity that we ended with, knowing that we have to come out in the beginning of each game like that," the coach said. "The girls came in feeling too comfortable and not coming out like 'We're going to have to earn this.' We talked about earning every point."

It worked, as the Lady Cats were much sharper. While they had five aces against Commerce, they recorded 17 against Clarksville (team-high five each by Butler and Evans).

The Lady Cats overcame a 1-7 deficit in the first game, finally drawing even at 10-10 on Womack's block at the net. Amanda McGowin gave them their first lead with an ace to start five straight points - three of them on Morgan kills.

Morgan finished the second match with a team-high 11 kills to go with nine points and four aces. McDonald added seven kills and Womack had four kills and two blocks.

In Game 2, Evans took the drama out of the game early with seven straight service points and three aces to put Sulphur Springs on top, 14-9. Womack and McDonald each had two spikes in the rally, and the Lady Cats finished off the game with four aces (two by Morgan, one each by Anderson and Butler) in their final seven points.

In Game 3, the Lady Cats had to rally from seven points down (18-11), but they did so convincingly by winning nine of the next 10 points - kills by McDonald and Womack helped - to take a 20-19 lead.

Morgan then had two solid kills as SSHS took a 25-24 advantage before Anderson served the final point - which Clarksville couldn't return.

"We played hard. We had some good opponents, and I saw some good things," Funk said. "Serving is definitely a strength of ours, and we'll continue to work on making it a part of our game plan."

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