The Ellison Lady Eagles won their sixth straight district volleyball match over a tough Chaparral Lady Bobcats team Tuesday to stay even with the Lake Belton Lady Broncos at the top of the District 22-5A heap.
Ellison Coach Shirelle Givens praised her 6-0 team for persevering throughout the hard-fought, momentum-shifting four-set match.
The Lady Bobcats won the first set on their home court 26-24 to fire up an excited crowd. From there, Ellison won three straight, all closely contested – 25-14, 25-18, and 25-23.
In the fourth set, Ellison built a commanding 15-6 lead, but it became clear that the Lady Bobcats wanted a fifth set.
Following a timeout, Chaparral came roaring back, using an 11-4 run to close the gap to 19-17 and eventually tied the fourth stanza at 22-22, leading to an Ellison timeout and a 3-1 Lady Eagles run to close out the match.
“This being the first year we’ve been 6-0 in district, it feels really good,” said Givens. She praised the support from the Ellison students and staff and the hard work of her coaching staff and players.
“Our program is working so hard,” she said. “They play their hearts out. They love each other. They love the game. They are willing to do what it takes to get the victory.”
If Chaparral was able to surprise opponents as a new school a year ago, the word is out that the Lady Bobcats come to play.
“They got each other fired up. They were not willing to accept defeat. They came out on fire,” said Givens of her team’s determination to move past the first set to win the next three.
One of the Lady Eagles’ most productive players of the night was senior middle hitter Iyahna Hibbler.
The Lady Bobcats “brought the energy,” Hibbler said of the second-year Chaparral team. “We knew that from the jump, but we knew we had to lock in and had to execute.”
“We knew they were good,” she said, explaining that her team battled through some unforced errors, close calls, and the fatigue of a long, close match.
“Once we lost that set, we knew we had to come back, and we did.”
“It feels really good (to be 6-0),” said Hibbler. The Lady Eagles won’t be celebrating yet.
They have a Friday showdown against the Lake Belton Lady Broncos, also undefeated (6-0) in District 22-5A after beating Belton High on Tuesday. The top district foes meet at the Ellison gym in a 5:30 p.m. start.
It’s the first of five straight home games for Ellison.
After the Lake Belton game, they face, in order, Killeen, Belton, University, and Shoemaker at home, then Waco on the road, the Chaparral Bobcats at home and their finale on the road at Lake Belton.
Chaparral Coach Sara Neal acknowledged the budding rivalry between the two KISD schools. Both teams, she said, successfully made adjustments throughout the match to keep the score tight.
Chaparral moves to 3-3 in district play. They lost a five-set heartbreaker at Belton High School Friday.
The Lady Bobcats are on the road the next three matches, at Shoemaker Friday, then Waco and Waco University before meeting Lake Belton at home on Oct. 10.
Following Tuesday’s matches, Ellison and Lake Belton are tied for first with identical 6-0 records.
Shoemaker is third at 4-2. Chaparral and Belton are 3-3. Killeen was 1-4 prior to their game against Waco University, which was 0-5. Waco is 0-6.
The top four finishers in the eight-team district make it to the playoffs based on their district record.
Last year, Lake Belton won the new District 22-5A, followed by Ellison, Shoemaker, and Chaparral, rounding out the playoff qualifiers.
In District 12-6A, the Harker Heights Lady Knights defeated Temple High in five sets to move to 1-4 in district.