Lovelady Sweeps West Hardin, 3-0
By Will Johnson
WILLIS – The Lovelady Lady Lions hit the road on Monday evening as they traveled to Willis to take on the West Hardin Lady Oilers in the Bi-District Round of the 2021 UIL Volleyball Playoffs.
The Lady Lions entered the contest as the District 23-2A Champions while the Lady Oilers finished fourth in District 24-2A.
Lovelady had not dropped a match that mattered since before league play while West Hardin barely snuck into the postseason.
Given those factors, it was expected the Lady Lions would have an easy time on Monday night. That was not the case, however, as Lovelady struggled in the opening set before storming back to win, 25-20.
The second set was much easier for Lovelady as they went on 10-2 run midway through the set before they pulled away to win, 25-13. The final set of the match was a back-and-forth affair as the Lady Oilers battled the Lady Lions throughout several extended rallies before eventually falling by a count of 25-22.
As the match got underway, the first set saw West Hardin open on a 5-1 run, causing Lovelady Head Coach Andee Little to call a timeout in order to regroup.
The Lady Oilers’ lead remained at four until back-to-back kills from Lovelady’s Bailee Albinus and Chelsea Butler cut the margin to two at 10-8.
The Lady Oilers pushed their lead back to six before a Mihyia Davis kill followed by a pair of aces from Albinus cut the lead back to three. A second kill from Davis preceded a service ace from Butler and all of sudden the lead was down to one, forcing West Hardin to call a TO this time.
Butler continued to baffle the Lady Oilers with her serve as she recorded two more aces while her teammates helped to tie the set and then forge a four-point lead at 21-17.
West Hardin fought back to cut the Lovelady lead to one at 21-20, but that was as close the Lady Oilers would get as the Lady Lions’ MaKenna Pierce served out the set to earn the Lady Lions a hard fought 25-20 first set win.
The second set of the match saw Lovelady open up an early lead as they shut down the West Hardin offense. After a service ace from Kyle Pugh, the Lady Lions went on a 5-0 run that was halted on a strong block from the Lady Oilers’ Wynter Wilson.
Lovelady responded by rattling off eight straight to take a 14-7 lead. A service winner from Albinus and an ace from Arris LeMaire pushed the lead out to nine as the Lady Lions went on to take the second set 25-13.
Up by a count of 2-0, the Lady Lions sought to close out the match in the third set but the Lady Oilers had different plans. West Hardin took the early lead until a service winner from Haven Prager tied the set at six.
A long rally went West Hardin’s way and gave the Lady Oilers a brief lead before Albinus and Shyanne Pipkin had back-to-back kills to put the Lady Lions back ahead.
West Hardin evened the score at 15 and forced a Lovelady TO. When play resumed, Davis continued her strong play at the net with a kill while Kylie Pugh served up an ace to give the Lady Lions a lead they would not relinquish.
The Lady Oilers made things interesting as they cut the margin to one at 23-22, but the Lady Lions were simply too much as they won the next two points to win the third set 25-22 and take the match by a final count of 3-0.
The win moves Lovelady into the Area Round of the playoffs where they will face the winner of the Leon Lady Cougars match against the Kerens Lady Wildcats.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.