LHHS drops Burnet volleyball


By Lance Catchings

BURNET — The Liberty Hill volleyball team continued its string of District 27-4A dominance as the Lady Panthers swept Burnet and Taylor in back-to-back road games on Tuesday and last Friday, respectively.

Liberty Hill defeated Burnet in three games Tuesday night by scores of 25-14, 25-16 and 25-18 to move their record to 25-15 (6-0). The energy level was high at the Burnet gymnasium, but Liberty Hill came out making big swings from the start. Burnet fought hard in all three games, but the Lady Panthers always seemed to be in control, even when the score was close.

“Playing Burnet is always interesting, because it is a rivalry game and these kids have known each other for a long time,” said Head Coach Gretchen Peterson. “We always play with a little bit different intensity when it is Burnet, and the Burnet girls play a little bit different against us. It is a fun rivalry, and it’s a good thing that we get this game. It always pushes us, challenges us, and I thought it was a good match for us tonight.”

Sophomore Lili Wilkins led the team in kills with 11 and Emily Huppee added seven to put away the Lady Dawgs. Emma Parsons had two aces to go with her 23 assists. Ashley Nelson had two aces and six digs on the night. McKenzie Wukasch picked up 17 digs in a strong defensive effort.

Despite the sweep, Peterson would like to see her team play a little cleaner moving forward, but was very encouraged by their overall aggressiveness.

“Defensively, we struggled at times tonight,” she said. “We made some adjustments, and I thought we did a good job there. Our serve/receive did a good job, and I felt we stayed focused. This is not a group that is going to be very loud or vocal, but in their own way, they find a way to play with the intensity they need at times. I like the confidence they showed in running set plays and pushing the tempo tonight. We had some hitting errors, but I will take that on aggressive swings and aggressive serves, as well.”

Back row play has been a focal point, as Peterson has used several players in the libero position this season, and she likes what she has seen from the unit on the court lately.

“Our back row has moments when they look solid, and I think they are still trying to find their way,” she said. “This is new for a lot of them, and they are adjusting to the game. I think sometimes the faster the pace of play, the easier it is to play defense, because you don’t have time to think. We have had a few times where we have been caught overthinking, but all in all, they are all working hard. They are all improving, and I see the strides they have made from the beginning of the season to this point of the season.”

Liberty Hill downed Taylor last Friday night 25-11, 25-14 and 25-18. Nelson led the team in kills in the win with 11 and Huppee added another 10. Wilkins had four blocks on the night while Kindsee Escamilla had one. Emilee Allred added 11 assists and three aces in the win. Wukasch and Escamilla led the defensive effort with 15 and eight digs each.

“Against Taylor, we played alright,” Peterson said. “We got away with some things we need to be aware of as we move closer to the playoffs. With that said, at the end of the night, they played a complete game. They all contributed and do what they can to help our team improve. They all work hard to better every time we step on the court and that is all that we can ask.”

The win over Burnet on Tuesday began the second round of district play for the Lady Panthers. They host Lampasas Friday and travel to Salado Oct. 16. Liberty Hill dominated every team in the first round, but they take no one lightly.

“After we finished the first round of district, we talked about how every team now is restarting 0-0,” Peterson said. “You have to re-evaluate and make adjustments in this game. Every team in the district has seen each other now and is ready. Each team knows what they need to do from game to game, so we cannot overlook anything. We must go in and face every opponent and make sure we give them all the respect that they deserve.”

The Lady Panthers have now won 38 district games in a row dating back the past three years. They will look to continue that streak in their upcoming district games.