By TAYLOR GRAFFT
ROBINSON — The Liberty Hill Varsity volleyball team came into their Bi-district matchup Monday against Venus High School with an enormous amount of confidence after winning their second District title in a row.
The Panthers wasted no time showing their opponents why they were so successful in district this season (finishing undefeated with a 10-0 record), and why they are ranked ninth in the state in the Texas Girls Coaches Association Volleyball Poll.
Liberty Hill defeated Venus in three sets (25-8, 25-12, 25-8) and move onto the Area round to face Burkburnett at Glen Rose High School on Thursday, Nov. 7.
“Burkburnett seem more athletic and plays a faster tempo than Venus,” said Head Coach Gretchen Peterson. “It should be a tough match.”
Coach Peterson added that they watched game film on Wednesday afternoon to find out more about their new opponent.
Against Venus, the Lady Panthers showed confidence and displayed their superiority throughout the three game sweep. The match was played at Waco Robison High School.
“I think momentum-wise and confidence-wise and the demeanor on the court was really good to see,” said Peterson. “Coming into a playoff game, regardless of what team you’re playing, you want to see that kind of attitude out there and I thought they did a great job of that tonight. I’m really proud of how they executed and how they stayed consistent. They continued to build on that momentum throughout the match.”
Senior setter Kallie Perrin has been dominant all season and showed her quality with another strong performance in the Panthers’ opening playoff match. Perrin led the Panthers with 26 assists. Peyton Redmond also put in a solid performance and led the team with 10 kills. Libero Payton Walker and outside hitter Mason Sharp each recorded seven digs in the match. Middle blocker Jaycie Pluenneke led the Panthers with three blocks and Redmond added two more blocks. Mason Sharp led the Panthers in serving and finished with four aces.
“I thought Redmond did very well,” Peterson said. “She’s such a smart player and found a lot of openings. I think we were able to do so well because of our passers. Kallie (Perrin) did a great job of really spreading out the floor and getting the ball where they weren’t. All our hitters, especially Redmond, did a great job of finding the holes in their defense.”
In the first game, the Lady Panthers started out slow and fell behind 1-4. After they calmed their nerves and got their passing out of serve and receive working they never looked back and took momentum for the rest of the match.
“I think we just played with a lot of confidence,” Peterson said. “The girls saw their openings and really made good decisions. Our defense played well and we served really aggressive. Overall it was a well rounded game for us.”
An ace by Mason Sharp and a kill by Peyton Redmond allowed the Lady Panthers to rally back and tie the game at 4-all. A double hit by Venus gave the Liberty Hill its first lead of the match. Another kill by Redmond and a block by Pluenneke increased the lead to 7-4. Venus rallied back to cut the Panther lead to 7-6 after a hitting error.
“I think defensively it’s one of the better games we’ve played,” Peterson said. “Venus wasn’t the fastest tempo team we’ve played, but sometimes that slower play can be hard to read. I thought we reacted well.”
The Lady Panthers took an 11-8 lead a few points later after a double hit by Venus. They then went on a 14-0 run to finish off the first set with a 25-8 victory. In that run Redmond picked up a block, Madi Sharp and Jill Green both added a kill each. Perrin added an ace.
In the second game, the Lady Panthers jumped out to a 4-3 lead after a kill by Perrin. Liberty Hill built upon the lead and went on a 6-0 run with an ace from Mason Sharp and two kills from Redmond to make it 10-3.
Jill Green got a kill to make it 12-6 before Redmond got her seventh kill of the match to make it 13-6. Madi Sharp picked up two kills that were both set by Perrin to make it 18-9. The Sharp sisters then increased the Panthers’ lead to 21-11 after they each picked up a kill.
An ace by Madi Sharp made it 23-12 before a dumpshot by Perrin gave the team the set point and a 25-12 game two win.
In the third and final set, the Lady Panthers jumped out to a 6-1 lead after key points from Perrin and Mason Sharp.
Redmond picked up her ninth kill of the match to make it 7-2 before Jill Green’s kill increased the Panthers’ lead to 9-3 a few points later. A double hit by Venus gave the Lady Panthers an 11-4 lead before an ace by Redmond made it 12-4.
A kill by Mason Sharp that was assisted by Perrin made it 14-5. Mason Sharp then picked up another kill to make it 16-7. An ace by Hallie Supak made it 19-7 after a 3-0 run by the Panthers.
Payton Walker’s ace made it 22-8 before Jill Green picked up a kill to give the Panthers their first match point attempt.
A hitting error by Venus gave Liberty Hill a 25-8 third game victory and the match. The Panthers will now carry their first playoff match victory over Venus and the momentum with them into the Area Round where they hope to continue their dominant win streak on the road to State.