Lady Panthers complete undefeated district season

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Liberty Hill’s Hailey Barrows (#7) gets up and over the net during the Lady Panthers’ win over Lampasas Tuesday. Liberty Hill finished their district season with an undefeated record. (Alex Rubio Photo)

Liberty Hill’s Hailey Barrows (#7) gets up and over the net during the Lady Panthers’ win over Lampasas Tuesday. Liberty Hill finished their district season with an undefeated record. (Alex Rubio Photo)

By KEITH SPARKS

On Tuesday, during their final district game of the season and their final game at home, the Lady Panthers solidified their fifth district championship in a row as they defeated Lampasas High School.

The varsity girls went undefeated in district play, and did not lose a single set versus district opponents. The junior varsity and freshman teams solidified their district championships on Tuesday as well, giving the Lady Panthers district titles at all three levels.

Tuesday night happened to be Senior Night on the last night in their home gym. The seniors were escorted onto the court by their parents prior to the game, as their post-graduation plans and favorite volleyball memories were shared with those in attendance.

They were able to celebrate Senior Night on a high note, winning once again in straight sets. The Lady Panthers ran away with it from the jump, winning the first set 25-11, the second 25-12, and the third 25-5. Kingsley Erps led the Panthers in kills with 10, Jenna Lyons finished with 5 aces, Brooklynn Jones finished with 31 assists, and Erps finished with 6 digs, as well.

“The girls have always dreamed big and aimed high, since the first week of two-a-days,” Liberty Hill Head Coach Gretchen Peterson said. “They’ve set many goals for this team, and one of them was winning a district championship, but they want to be champions at every level.”

They’ll have a chance to win at the next level when the first round of playoffs starts on Tuesday, Nov. 1. The Lady Panthers will play Navasota High School in Rockdale at 7 p.m.

“We won’t downplay this accomplishment,” Peterson said about their district championship. “We are proud to represent out district in this way, but our sights have always been focused on bigger things, as well. It’s part three of our season. Win and keep going, lose and go home. That brings a new intensity and excitement and rejuvenation to a team. We are excited to go to work.”

After a tumultuous pre-district season that saw the varsity girls lose 15 games, the Lady Panthers were able to take those lumps and turn them into positives, using their experiences to improve heading into district play, both as athletes and as women outside of volleyball, according to Coach Peterson,

“They have all improved,” Peterson said, “but the growth I am most proud of is how they have grown into strong, confident young women who are balancing sport and school and being a teenager really well. They have also become a remarkable sisterhood who love and care about each other deeply. They’re in this together and for each other. That makes me so happy to see, and proud to be a part of.”

Last Friday, the Lady Panthers played one of their closest district matches of the season against Llano, but they did remain undefeated. They won the first set 25-21, the second 25-20, and the third 25-9 after the Yellowjackets had been completely worn down. Hailey Barrows led with 11 kills, Gabi Sommerfield with 5 aces, Barrows and Ella Shipper with a block apiece, Brooklynn Jones with 31 assists, and Savannah Stanley with 9 digs.

The junior varsity girls beat Lampasas in straight sets on Tuesday, winning by scores of 25-9 and 25-8. Ashley Nelson led with 6 kills, Mia Hernandez with 3 aces, Bailey Grant with a block, Gracie Whitten with 6 assists, and Amanda Petterson with 3 digs.

The freshman girls beat Lampasas in straight sets, as well, both by scores of 25-10. Emily Huppe led the freshman girls with 7 kills, and Ashton Dirner and Camryn Child finished with 3 aces each.

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