Lady Cats finally get district reward

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Oct. 15, 2007 - The Sulphur Springs Lady Cats felt the reward on Friday for which they had been playing the last four weeks - a district victory.

The Lady Cats posted their first District 11-4A win with a five-game victory over Mount Pleasant, 16-25, 25-15, 25-18, 12-25, 15-11, following Senior Night activities at the SSMS gym.

The Lady Cats (13-21 overall, 1-7 in district) got strong front-row play from juniors Mackenzie Cross (10 kills, two assists), Katie Dodd (nine kills, three blocks), Baleigh Butler (nine kills) and Brittani Crawford (seven kills, one block, three assists).

Combined with six aces and 13 service points from junior Kelsey Smith, 13 points from Cross and 20 assists from sophomore Maurie Lewis, and the Lady Cats were understandably emotional about the win.

"It felt like it was a state championship considering how much emotion was put into it," said SSHS head coach Rachel Curtis. "Going five games kind of had us on edge. It being Senior Night, it was a perfect night for the game."

Before the match, seniors Kamesha Hall (nine points) and Amanda McGowin (nine points, two aces) were recognized.

The Lady Cats started off the first game on a sour note, allowing Mount Pleasant (1-7, 12-19) to win 11-of-12 points midway through. Nine straight service points by MP's Katie Webster put the Lady Tigers ahead 18-9 and the Lady Cats never won more than two straight points the rest of the game.

But, they bounced back in Game 2, and it was a total reversal of the first game as the Lady Cats went on an extended run, winning 8-of-10 points behind a pair of kills from junior Krista McMahan and a back-row kill from Cross. A service ace by McGowin gave the Lady Cats a 23-9 lead and they won handily despite three straight kills by MP's Destiny Smith, who had 16 kills in the match.

In the third game, the Lady Cats broke a 15-15 tie on a net serve by Webster, then won 6-of-7 points, starting with an ace by Kelsey Smith and powered by a spike from Dodd and two kills by Crawford.

"We had a lot of girls sick and injured before the game, and we didn't come out strong, which started to worry me," Curtis said. "But we got back on track in the second and third games. I really thought we'd end it in the fourth, but we fell to them again."

Mount Pleasant again had two long runs in the fourth game. The first run of six straight points was punctuated by four kills from Destiny Smith and the next run of eight consecutive points all came off Smith serves.

But, in the fifth game, the Lady Cats got off to a great start, going up 6-1 as Dodd had a middle-of-the-court spike and Crawford followed with a kill of her own in the same spot.

MP closed to within 10-8, but Cross knocked down a spike and then Dodd battled at the net, blocking one shot and tipping another before hammering a spike to give the Lady Cats a 13-8 advantage.

"Winning that game is really big for them," Curtis said. "It was a reward for what they've been through this season."

The Lady Cats will travel to North Lamar on Tuesday for another Senior Night contest, this time for the district-leading Pantherettes (8-0, 28-4). NL and Paris (7-1) have both sealed playoff berths, while the final playoff team will be either Texas High (4-4) or Lindale (3-5).

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