By Will Johnson
WESTWOOD – In a district where the defending state champion resides and is currently ranked number one in Class 3A, it would be a safe bet to assume the other teams in the district would be playing for second.
Such is the case for the Elkhart Lady Elks, the Frankston Maidens and the Westwood Lady Panthers. With the season nearing the midway point, the Leon Lady Cougars sit atop the District 18 3A standings with a mark of 5-0. After the matches held on Friday, Sept. 23, Westwood and Teague are tied for second at 3-1, Malakoff sits alone in fourth at 2-2 while Elkhart and Frankston are 1-3. Buffalo appears to be having a down year and is 0-5.
Heading into Friday’s match between Elkhart and Westwood, the Lady Elks were only a game back from a playoff spot and while they lost to the Lady Panthers by a final score of 3-1 (25-21, 22-25, 12-25 and 17-25), they still have to be encouraged from their early play on Friday afternoon.
The Lady Elks were fresh off of a huge come from behind win against the Frankston Maidens on Tuesday and carried the momentum they gained in Elkhart to Westwood where they won the first set and very nearly the second.
In the second set of the match, the Lady Panthers found themselves trailing as the scoreboard read 21-22. At that point, the Westwood fans began to urge the girls on and the Lady Panthers were able to take the second set by a score of 25-22.
The pivotal third set opened with the Lady Panthers jumping out to an early 3-0 lead. Elkhart came back to tie the score at six and again at eight. At that point, Westwood Coach Janae Evans called a timeout in order to re-focus her team. After the Westwood timeout, the Lady Panthers went on a 17-4 run to close out the set, 25-12, and took the lead in the match by a score of 2-1.
The fourth set opened with the Lady Elks taking a 3-0 lead. Coach Evans called another timeout to calm her team down and the strategy paid off as the Lady Panthers tied the set at six and slowly began to pull away. With the score at 17-11, however, the Lady Elks began to mount a comeback. Elkhart cut the lead to 18-16 when Westwood called their second timeout of the set in an attempt to halt the Lady Elks’ momentum.
The second TO of the set proved to be just as effective as the first, as the Lady Panthers opened up a 21-16 lead. On the next point, two huge blocks by Westwood’s Tameia Davis took the wind out of the Elkhart sails as the Lady Panthers closed out the set and the match with a 25-17 fourth set win.
Following the match, Coach Evans discussed her team’s performance. “We started out slow. I think we were a little nervous but we came back and really executed the game plan. I’m really proud of them. Some of the girls stepped up with some big blocks and serves,” she said.
As to the timeouts in the third and fourth set, she explained, “I just talked to them about how important it would be to win that (the third) set and go up 2-1. I think they just got re-focused and went from there. IIN the fourth set, it was the exact same thing. In the fourth set, it was the same thing. We just wanted to finish at that point.”
On the two fourth set blocks by Davis, Evans remarked, “She had a huge game tonight. It seemed she was blocking everything at the net when she was up there.”
Davis had eight blocks on the night to go along with 10 kills. Other players mentioned by Evans included: Jordan Carter with 12 kills; Katelynn Hutchens with 10 kills and four service aces; Shamaya Downie with six kills; Avrey Jenkins with 36 assists on the night and three service aces; Janzel Baroy with 14 digs and adding four service aces; and Sara Henson with 12 digs.
Westwood is now in second place in District 18-3A with a record of 3-1. They traveled to Frankston on Tuesday night to take on the Maidens but as of press time the score was unavailable.
The loss dropped the Lady Elks to 1-3 in district play. Elkhart traveled to Buffalo on Tuesday evening for a match with the Lady Bison but as of press time the score was unavailable.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.