The Lewisville High School volleyball team lost a pair of matches last week to open its district season, bringing their record to 8-14, 0-2 in district.
The Lady Farmers were defeated Friday by Hebron High School 3-0 (25-11, 25-16, 25-16). The matchup against the back-to-back state champions and nationally ranked Hawks (22-7, 2-0 in district) was expected to be a tough game for the Lady Farmers, especially with the absence of middle blocker Isis Williams.
Hebron is likely to be among the toughest competition the Lady Farmers face all season. Outside hitter Meredith Wagley led the Farmers with 14 digs and Ryleigh Taylor had a team leading eight assists to go along with three kills.
On Tuesday the Farmers went to Marcus High School to take on the rival Marauders (13-8, 1-1). The Farmers were without key defensive specialist Rachel Barnett, though Williams returned, and lost 3-0 (25-14, 25-17, 25-19).
Marcus quickly jumped out to an 8-2 lead on the Farmers in the first set before Farmers coach Libby Rodriguez took a timeout to try and settle the Lady Farmers down. The timeout was effective as the Farmers, following another point for the Marauders, were able to go on an 8-5 run, punctuated by a kill from middle backer Christina Cowsert, that brought the score to 14-10 Marcus. Cowsert led the Farmers with eight kills in the match.
The brief Lewisville run was short lived however, as the Marauders went on a run of their own. The Marauders ended the game scoring 11 of the final 15 points to win the first set 25-14.
The second set of the match was a back-and-forth affair early on. Through 18 rallies, the scores was tied at 9 and looked as if the match would go down to the wire. A three-point stretch for the Farmers brought the score to 12-9, and it looked like the Farmers might pull away and tie up the match at one game apiece.
Following another 3-3 stretch, the Farmers led 15-12 before Marcus took control of the second set. The Marauders dominated the second half of the game, outscoring the Farmers 13-2 en route to a 25-17 win.
Early on in the third set it looked as if the Farmers had lost complete control of the match, with the Marauders leading 13-4 and threatening to run away with the set. An impressive run by the Farmers brought them within two points of Marcus, with the score sitting at 15-13 Marcus.
A 7-2 stretch by the Marauders brought the score to 22-15, and the Farmers were unable to threaten Marcus again. Marcus ultimately won the set 25-19 and was able to complete the three game sweep of the Farmers.
Despite the 3-0 sweep, Lewisville played Marcus well in most areas of the game. The Farmers did well at not making mental mistakes digging numerous kill attempts from Marcus’ attack.
Cowsert, defensive specialist Jaya Contee and outside hitter Meredith Wagley stood out defensively for the Lady Farmers. All three were diving after balls and erasing potential points for the Marauders. Wagley recorded 10 digs for the game and Cowsert had 9.
“I’m pretty happy with my back row,” Rodriguez said. “My passing and my ball handling was good, and we just need to work on execution.”
Setter Ryleigh Taylor’s passes were well placed for her teammates. Taylor’s 13 assists on the night, while lower than in previous matches, don’t tell the whole story of her performance.
Taylor put her team in good position for kill attempts, but many of the shots were blocked, hit out of bounds or returned by the Marauders.
The Farmers struggled to handle the Marauders at the net, whose height and jumping advantage caused problems for the Farmers. The front row players for the Marauders were able to consistently challenge kill attempts from the Farmers. Lewisville was forced to alter its tactics as a result of the play of Marcus’ front row players led by outside hitter Payson Kelley.
“When you get blocked a couple of times,” Rodriguez said. “Your response is to go off-speed or work around the block.”
It was clear that the Farmers began attempting fewer spikes and were trying to drop balls over the top of block attempts or hit the ball across the court to empty zones. This tactic led to many easily returnable balls or kill attempts hit out of bounds.
Williams, who returned to the team following an injury, was the only Farmer who could contend with the Marauders height advantage. The injury was clearly affecting Williams, whose 3 kills and 2 blocks for the game were below her normal output.
“That was Isis’ first game back,” Rodriguez said of the injuries impact on Williams. “You could tell she was not herself.”
Williams returning to full strength, plus getting a healthy Barnett back will provide the Farmers with additional offense and defense as the district season continues.
The Lady Farmers will take on the L.D. Bell Blue Raiders (5-12, 0-2) Friday at 6:30 p.m. at L.D. Bell. The Blue Raiders were the only District 5-6A team to finish behind the Lady Farmers last season, so the match should provide the Farmers an opportunity to get into the win column in district play.