By KEITH SPARKS
The Lady Panthers played Hyde Park Tuesday on a few days’ rest after playing nine games over the weekend at the Westwood Showcase Tournament.
Liberty Hill won the first set by a score of 25-12, followed by a 25-27 loss in the second. The Lady Panthers would win out to secure the victory, winning the next two sets by scores of 25-16 and 25-21.
After a tough Westwood Showcase outing, Head Coach Gretchen Peterson was pleased with her team’s ability to fight through adversity during Tuesday’s matchup.
“I just think the confidence to move on from a mistake,” Peterson said of what she saw against Hyde Park. “There were a number of times where we were down three or four points and we needed a side out play, and they found a way to get it done. We’re moving in the right direction. We just always have to remember to play with confidence so we can pick ourselves up and move on quickly, and to not get hung up on a past mistake. We struggled with that on Friday in the tournament, so it was good to see them being able to shake things off, make an adjustment, and come back on the very next play and move on and get out of that situation.”
The Lady Panthers were led offensively by nine kills from Emily Huppee and eight from Jenna Lyons. Gabi Sommerfield chipped in four aces on the evening, followed by Ella Shipper with three. Sommerfield also finished with five blocks. Brooklynn Jones finished with 30 assists while Savannah Stanley led the way defensively with 12 digs.
On August 10, the Lady Panthers began playing in the Westwood Showcase Tournament, beating TMI, a prep school from San Antonio, in straight sets by scores of 25-10 and 25-13. Next, they beat Temple in straight sets by scores of 25-14 and 25-23 before falling to Leander in three games by scores of 26-24, 23-25, and 6-25.
On August 11, the Lady Panthers lost to Vandegrift in straight sets by scores of 13-25 and 16-25. They also fell to Cedar Park and Hendrickson in straight sets by scores of 15-25, 13-25 and 21-25, 18-25, respectively.
“This is the first year we went to the Westwood Showcase Tournament, and it’s a much tougher tournament right out of the gate for us,” Peterson said. “We’re still working on confidence and making adjustments with our lineup, and also just getting the new players and the old players comfortable together. I thought we did a lot of good things. We struggled, but I think sometimes you learn the most from those struggles. Better to have them early.”
On August 12, Liberty Hill beat Stephenville in straight sets by scores of 25-16 and 25-22. Next, the beat Seguin in straight sets before falling to Cedar Park in their last match of the tournament by scores of 23-25 in both games.
“I think we bounced back Saturday really well from a tough Friday where we just were plagued by a lot of our own mistakes,” Peterson said. “Saturday, I thought we responded well when we made mistakes or when we needed to make a play or needed a side out. They’re learning how to respond and stay confident in those situations.”
For the first month of the season, the Lady Panthers won’t play a single home game, as they’re set to play in a number of tournaments with a few regular season games sprinkled in away from home. According to Peterson, that shouldn’t be a problem for the Lady Panthers. In fact, she thinks being forced to adjust to life on the road will prove to be a positive in the future.
“Volleyball is unique, because we just play so much so early with the tournaments,” she said. “I don’t think it really affects the girls maybe the way it affects other sports, because it’s just the nature of the beast. In their club seasons, they’re traveling to other states and playing with other games happening all around them. Most of these girls are veterans, and they’re used to playing not in their own gym. It’s nice to be at home. It’s great and we’re so excited for our home games, but right now we’re still working out a lot of things and getting our volleyball shape about us, so it’s good for us to play in different places and learn how to adjust to new courts and being on the road and coming back after getting home late. It’s all part of the process.”
The Lady Panthers will play in their second tournament of the season this weekend as they compete in the Bastrop ISD Tournament at Bastrop High School from Thursday through Saturday, followed by a Tuesday night game against McNeil at McNeil High School at 6:30 p.m.