Lady Panthers breeze to victory in home opener

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After spending nearly the entire first month of the new season on the road, the Lady Panthers of Liberty Hill returned home to the Purple Palace with a convincing 3-0 (25-9, 25-9, 25-15) victory against Cedar Creek on Tuesday.
Kindsee Escamilla and Lilli Wilkins each had seven kills apiece to pace the Lady Panthers, but it was Wilkins in particular who caught the eye of head coach Gretchen Peterson.
“Lilli got plenty of playing time tonight and she’s really beginning to find her own,” said Peterson. “Maddi Rowley also got some time on the front row. Everyone got touches and reps.”
Liberty Hill quickly stormed out of the starting gates at the outset of the match, winning the first five points of the evening, including a pair of kills for Emily Huppee to go with one each for Escamilla and Emma Becker and an ace for Wilkins.
The home side used an 8-0 run to help close out the Lady Eagles in the first set, 25-9. Escamilla had six kills in the opening stanza.
In the second set, it was much of the same, with the Lady Panthers once again winning by a 25-9 scoreline, including three aces out of four points during one stretch for Becker and four kills in the set for Ashley Nelson.
The visitors showed some fight in the third set, but it was too little, too late as Peterson’s club closed the deal, including three more kills for Becker, along with a pair each for Ashleigh Dubbs and Ailie Hair.
Becker had another strong performance with four aces and 15 assists, while Emma Parsons had seven assists, Nelson recorded eight digs and Escamilla four. Wilkins also served three aces and Hair blocked four shots with one each for Escamilla, Wilkins and Huppee.
According to Peterson, it was a good way to open the home schedule, but there’s still room for improvement.
“We played well, but we still missed too many serves,” said Peterson. “But, it was good because we got to work on some things we normally can’t in matches – it was exactly what we needed.”
Smithson Valley
Last weekend, the Lady Panthers hit the road once again for their third tournament in as many weekends at the Smithson Valley Showdown.
On Thursday, Liberty Hill opened play with a match against New Braunfels and were defeated by a score of 2-1 (22-25, 25-20, 18-25), despite six kills apiece from Ailie Hair and Emma Becker, who also provided 12 assists on the match. Haley Kuhlmann was credited with 11 digs and an ace, while Hair had eight blocks.
The second match of the day saw the Lady Panthers take on Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial, in which they emerged victorious, 2-0 (25-20, 25-17). Kinsee Escamilla and Lilly Wilkins led with five kills each and Becker had nine assists, while Emma Parsons added seven. Kuhlmann and Becker each had four digs, Wilkins had six blocks along with four from Hair and Kuhlmann and Parsons each served an ace.
Finally, Liberty Hill faced Tomball in Thursday’s final match and picked up another win, 2-0 (25-14, 25-17). Ashley Nelson hammered eight kills, while Escamilla and Hair each had four. Becker supplied 10 assists and Parsons eight, Kuhlmann led with seven digs with four by Nelson, Emily Huppee and Ashleigh Dubbs each had four blocks and Escamilla served a pair of aces.
The Lady Panthers has a rough go of it on Friday, losing all three matches they played.
First up was a 2-0 (25-21, 25-12) loss to San Antonio O’Connor, in which Escamilla had seven kills, while Huppee added three. Parsons led with eight assists and Becker contributed four, with Kuhlmann having 10 digs and Becker four. Escamilla and Dubbs had three and two blocks, respectively, with Escamilla, Nelson and Kuhlmann each serving up an ace apiece.
“We played poorly against a good team,” said head coach Gretchen Peterson. “We just never got things in motion.”
Up next was a matchup against Houston Cy-Fair, which resulted in a 2-0 (25-13, 25-21) defeat. Escamilla had five kills and Nelson five, as Parsons led with seven assists and Becker six. Kuhlmann supplied 10 digs and Becker and Lauren LaDuque each had five, while Becker blocked five shots and Nelson four, along with an ace for Kuhlmann.
Finally, the Lady Panthers faced Reagan and lost by a score of 2-0 (25-18, 25-17). Nelson led with seven kills, while Escamilla added five and Becker and Parsons each had eight assists. Parsons also led with 14 digs, while Maddi Rowley had seven, Nelson six and Kuhlmann three. Hair contributed seven blocks and Becker six.
“Today got the best of us,” said Peterson. “We played some really good competition, saw some good volleyball and played better as we went on.”
A 2-4 record over the first two days of the event relegated the Lady Panthers to the Gold consolation bracket for Saturday.
First up for Liberty Hill was a 2-1 (15-25, 25-18, 25-16) defeat to Grand Oaks, in which Escamilla recorded nine kills and Nelson five, Becker had 10 assists and Parsons eight, Parsons was credited with nine digs and Kuhlmann eight, Huppee had four blocks, with Dubbs and Nelson each contributing a pair and Becker and Kuhlmann served four and two aces, respectively.
“We had too many passing errors, hitting errors and unforced errors hurt us,” said Peterson. “We also gave up long runs and didn’t adjust well.”
Next was Stony Point, who the Lady Panthers defeated last week at the Bastrop tournament and a repeat performance was in the cards in the form of a 2-0 (26-24, 25-17) victory. Hair led with five kills, while Escamilla, Huppee and Becker all had four apiece. Becker had seven assists and Parsons seven, Kuhlmann had eight digs and Parsons four, Escamilla blocked six shots and Hair five and Hair served three aces and Nelson two.
In their final match of the weekend, Liberty Hill lost to Holy Cross 2-1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-15), as Becker crushed nine kills, Escamilla five and Huppee four, while Parsons had 15 assists to nine for Becker. Kuhlmann had 11 digs, Parsons eight and Nelson six, Hair and Nelson each had three blocks and Parsons served two aces and Kuhlmann one.

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