Hammer Down: Lady Cats sweep Clarksville
By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor
Aug. 22, 2007 - The Sulphur Springs Lady Cats took their lumps at the McKinney tournament last weekend. Tuesday, they dished out a few.
The Lady Cats looked sharp in their home opener at Wildcat Gym, beating Clarksville in three straight games, 25-15, 25-22, 25-15, to improve their record to 2-6.
More than half of Sulphur Springs points came from 29 kills (junior Mackenzie Cross had a team-high nine) and 15 aces (junior Baleigh Butler led with seven). Five of the SSHS servers had at least one ace and seven girls registered kills.
"They really played well tonight," said SSHS first-year coach Rachel Curtis. "A lot of things came together tonight that we had been working on in practice. I am very proud of the girls. They really stepped up and did what I asked them to do.
"I set goals before each game, and one of those goals was to swing hard - and they did."
The Lady Cats fell behind in the first game by a 1-4 score, but it was the only time in the match that they trailed by more than two points. After falling behind early, two straight serving aces by Cross tied the game, then the Lady Cats reeled off seven of the next 11 points to take an 11-6 lead.
Cross, the Newcomer of the Year last season in District 11-4A, finished with eight points and three aces to go with her nine kills. She also had a game-ending spike, set up by sophomore Maurie Lewis.
Lewis, the team's only setter, had a stellar performance with 19 assists, eight points, three aces and even registered a kill on a tip shot.
In Game 2, the Lady Cats took an 8-7 lead on Lewis' tip, and led the rest of the way, but the score got perilously close in the late going.
Clarksville's Kmaria Hobbs, the team's top player, had three kills in a span of six points and then served an ace to bring the Lady Tigers to within 20-21. But, her next serve went long, putting the serve back in the Lady Cats' possession. SSHS' Butler then powered a pair of aces to put the Lady Cats back in command. Butler had a team-high 13 points and added five kills.
"The key with these girls is keeping their intensity high," Coach Curtis said. "They really do a good job picking themselves up. It's really easy to get down on yourself when you mess up, and that leads to more mistakes. But, these girls stay up the entire time, they shake it off and come back even stronger."
Game 3 turned in the Lady Cats' favor midway through on eight straight service points by Lewis, including three aces. The highlight of the run was a play at the net by Cross when she blocked one spike by Hobbs, then after tip, hammered down a kill.
SSHS junior Krista McMahan also had back-to-back kills in the run. She had six kills in the match.
The game ended when junior middle blocker Katie Dodd blocked a spike at the net, then Butler's next serve couldn't be returned. Dodd had five kills and two blocks.
"As a coach, it's great to see that what you're working on in practice is paying off," Curtis said. "We're serving a lot and they're doing an excellent job of coming through on that."
The Lady Cats will be on the road again this week when they play in the Terrell tournament on Friday and Saturday. Friday's pool games will be at 10:15 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.
"I hope there are tough teams there - that will only make us better," Curtis said.