By Taylor Grafft
The Liberty Hill Panthers Varsity volleyball team made quick work of Harker Heights on Tuesday night, sweeping the Knights in three games (25-15, 25-20, 25-20).
Head Coach Gretchen Peterson was pleased with how her team worked together against Harker Heights and thinks they are building momentum as the season progresses.
“We’re starting to connect more,” Coach Peterson said. “We’re definitely moving more and talking. We got in a little bit of a lull there, but when we were playing with intensity and really pushing the offense, we tried a lot of really good plays, I think we’re going to connect more on the slides and the up-tempo stuff. So overall it was just a good win. It was good to come back home and get a win here for the first time. So we’re just going to really celebrate it for that. We know what we need to work on. The mistakes we made are things that we’re aware of that will be a process that we can continue to work on.”
The Panthers came out strong in the first game with a 25-15 win. After going down 3-5 early in the game, Liberty Hill came back to tie it 6-6 after a dump shot from Peyton Redmond.
Redmond and Hallie Supak combined for a block to make it 13-7 in favor of the Panthers. Mason Sharp stepped up big and made it 16-12 after a kill. The Panthers went on a 4-2 run after Remond and Jaycie Pluenneke combined on a block and made it 20-14. The Panthers then went on a 5-1 run to finish off the Knights in the first game.
The second game was a much closer contest for the teams. The Knights and Panthers tied seven times in the game before Liberty Hill pulled away and won 25-20. Liberty Hill jumped out to a 5-2 lead after Kallie Perrin and Redmond combined to block the Owls.
A kill by Jill Green made it 7-5. The Owls were able to tie the game at 7-7 after an ace. The teams battled back and forth and exchanged points. Green broke the Owls serve after a kill made it 11-12. Liberty Hill took the lead again after a kill by Redmond made it 17-16. The Panthers went on an 8-4 run to finish off the Owls in the second game and picked up a two game advantage.
In the third and final game, Liberty Hill came out fast and jumped out to a 7-2 lead. The Owls went on a run to bring the game closer, 8-6. A kill by Supak broke the Owls serve and made it 9-6. Then, the Panthers went on a 4-0 run to make it 13-6 after an ace by Kelly McKinzey. Green and Supak really stepped up their play in the final game.
Green and Supak both finished with three kills in the third game. A kill by Pluenneke put the Panthers ahead 19-14. The Owls battled back and went on a 5-1 run to make it 20-19, however that was the closest that Harker Heights would come. Back to back kills by Green and Supak finished off the Knights and gave the Panthers a three game sweep.
“Jill has really stepped up into the role that we’ve needed her to fill,” Coach Peterson said. “Hallie is really stepping up and playing a role that we need her in right now with Madi out right now. So Hallie has stepped in and filled those shoes really well. She’s adjusted really well to Varsity after being someone who played on JV last year.”
The match marked the first time the Panthers won a match in the new Liberty Hill High School Gym.
Green and Redmond led the Panthers with eight kills each in the match. Perrin had a match-high 22 assists. Mason Sharp finished with a team-high 11 digs. Pluenneke led the team with two blocks, while McKinzey led the Panthers with two aces.
Madi Sharp was absent from the match on Tuesday after rolling her ankle in the first match at the Leander Tournament last week. Peterson said the extent of the injury was minor.
“Madi rolled her ankle,” Coach Peterson said. “It’s not a big sprain, but she rolled her ankle in the first game at the Leander Tournament.”
The Panthers will travel to Taylor on Friday to take on Taylor High School in their next match. The match will start at 6 p.m. following the 9th/JV matches at 5 p.m.