LHHS volleyball captures another District title

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Seniors Kaley Nelson (left) and Jaycie Pluenneke (right) watch their senior teammate Peyton Redmond (center) finish off an attack with a powerful hit against the Burnet Bulldogs on Tuesday. The team finished with a perfect 10-0 district record for the third straight year. (Kathy Canady Photo)

Seniors Kaley Nelson (left) and Jaycie Pluenneke (right) watch their senior teammate Peyton Redmond (center) finish off an attack with a powerful hit against the Burnet Bulldogs on Tuesday. The team finished with a perfect 10-0 district record for the third straight year. (Kathy Canady Photo)

By Taylor Grafft

The Panthers’ volleyball match against the Burnet Bulldogs on Tuesday had all the storylines you can imagine.

It would have been easy for the Panthers to get caught up in all the distractions, emotions and the atmosphere that surrounded the match—but not this team. This team is focused and has much bigger goals in mind.

“We talked about it before the match,” said Coach Gretchen Peterson. “They couldn’t play emotional. They had to use that emotion to motivate them or inspire them. To give them that extra push.”

The next goal starts on Tuesday when the team starts the playoffs in the Bi-district round.

“Now there is that sense of urgency,” said Peterson. “In the playoffs you’re one-and-done, so the girls understand that. We’ll let them enjoy the win (Tuesday) night and go back to work (Wednesday).”

Against Burnet, the team was seeking its third consecutive district championship and third consecutive undefeated district campaign.

Mission accomplished and another 10-0 perfect district record. No easy feat, but Liberty Hill can check those items off its list of season goals. The team made quick work of the Bulldogs and swept the rivals in three sets, 25-14, 25-12, 25-17.

Next item of importance that night was for the nine seniors who played their final home match for Liberty Hill — Jill Green, Payton Walker, Peyton Redmond, Kelly McKinzey, Sarah Philpott, Brianna Hillman, Hallie Supak, Jaycie Pluennke and Kaley Nelson. Four seniors will be moving on to play at the next level, while the others are going on to do great things academically.

Before the match, the seniors were honored by their coaches and teammates and met by their parents on the court with hugs and tears.

“I’m really happy for them,” said Peterson. “It’s going to be hard to let them go. The season isn’t over yet, but I know (senior night) is a special night for them. It’s their time now. They’ve matured and grown so much since they were freshmen. I’m ready for them to go into the playoffs and make all those memories. Everything they’ve accomplished this year and these four years is really special for them.”

Once the match got started however, the seniors wiped away those tears and handled their business by adding another district trophy to their collection.

That accomplishment would be good enough for most teams in the state of Texas, but this is Liberty Hill. This team—especially these nine seniors—are building a foundation for the future and want to carry on a winning tradition. They aren’t looking for just district titles, they want state titles.

Senior Jill Green was the standout player of the match with her powerful swings and punishing serves. Last year’s District 8-3A MVP and senior Peyton Redmond was another force on the outside. The two may be the two best outside hitters in the state.

Senior Jaycie Pluenneke consistently finished off attacks in the middle and also recorded several key blocks on defense. Senior Payton Walker played great defense, sacrificing her body by rolling around on the floor, and also made great passes out of the backcourt. Senior Kelly McKinzey dictated the tempo and distributed passes all around the court.

Senior Kaley Nelson provided hustle on defense and also had some nice passes to her teammates from the outside. Senior Hallie Supak came off the bench and served well for the Panthers.

Against Lampasas last week, the Panthers also swept their opponents 3-0 (25-4, 25-21, 25-9). Green led the Panthers with 15 kills. She also led the team in aces with 3. McKinzey finished with 34 assists. Pluenneke and Tori Graves each finished with two blocks. Walker finished with a team-high 22 digs.

Junior Varsity

The Junior Varsity team swept Burnet 2-0 (25-23, 25-17). Alli Child led the team in assists with 14, she also finished tied for the most aces with three along with AJ Chambers and Joely Williamson. Carley Maples finished with six digs, while Andi Graves led the team with five kills. Hailey Barrows finished with three blocks.

Freshman

The Liberty Hill Freshman team defeated Burnet in three sets. They dropped the first set in a close 23-25 loss. They then came back to win the next two, 25-20 and 25-16.

Eighth-grade

The eighth-grade purple team defeated Lampasas in two sets (25-10, 25-20). The eighth-grade Gold team also swept Lampasas 2-0 (25-10, 25-11) on the road.

Seventh-grade

The seventh-grade Purple team made quick work of Lampasas in two sets (25-9, 25-17). The seventh-grade Gold team went on the road and defeated Lampasas in two sets (25-13, 25-17).

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