Lady Panthers sweep first day in Bastrop

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By Scott Akanewich
Sports Editor

Liberty Hill faced Stony Point in the final match of the first day of competition at the Bastrop Classic, with both clubs having won their respective first two matches of the event and it certainly lived up to a battle of unbeatens as the Lady Panthers defeated the Tigers, 3-0 (28-26, 27-29, 25-19) to finish atop their group moving into Friday’s action.
Kinsee Escamilla continued her strong start to the season with a squad-high 10 kills, while Ashley Nelson added another 10, including five in the decisive third set to help close out the victory. Emily Huppee and Emma Becker each had six kills, while Becker had 16 assists and Emma Parsons 14, respectively. Haley Kuhlmann had eight digs and three aces and Ailie Hair and Ashleigh Dubbs formed a powerful defensive front at the net with 10 and seven blocks, respectively.
The first two stanzas saw the Lady Panthers lead most of the way, with Stony Point fighting back to claim the first and Liberty Hill holding them off in the second.
However, in the final set, it looked as if the Lady Panthers would cruise to victory.
Kuhlmann opened the third with back-to-back aces and Liberty Hill found themselves leading by as much as 17-4 after a 10-0 run, which included three Nelson kills, but that was quickly answered with an 8-0 Tigers run which closed the gap to 17-13. Escamilla and Becker both hammered kills home shortly thereafter and the deal was done.
According to head coach Gretchen Peterson, the wild swings of fortune in the third set are simply part and parcel.
“Volleyball is a game of momentum,” she said. “Basically, it came down to the team which made the fewest errors was going to win and we adjusted and did things better.”
Earlier in the day, the Lady Panthers defeated Rudder in the opener, 2-0 (25-16, 25-15) as Escamilla pounded seven kills with Nelson and Becker each adding four. Becker and Parsons both contributed seven assists to the cause, while Becker also had a team-high three digs and two blocks, along with a pair each from Ailie Hair and Escamilla.
In the second match, Liberty Hill beat host Cedar Creek, 2-0 (25-9, 25-14) on the strength of six kills by Escamilla, while Becker led with nine assists, Nelson had three digs, Hair four blocks and Ashleigh Dubbs, Becker and Parsons all served up a pair of aces apiece.
Liberty Hill (9-5) will next face Lubbock Cooper on Friday at 8 a.m., followed by matches against Hendrickson at 9:15 a.m. and Cedar Ridge at 10:30 a.m., all at Bastrop High School. Results from those matches will determine seeding for the final day of the tournament on Saturday.

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