Panthers dominate Badgers in pink game

Seniors Jill Green (#2), Kelly McKinzey (#10), and Kaley Nelson (#17) watch junior Allee Nix (#16) pick up a crucial kill against Lampasas in a 3-0 victory on Tuesday. (Kathy Canady Photo)

Seniors Jill Green (#2), Kelly McKinzey (#10), and Kaley Nelson (#17) watch junior Allee Nix (#16) pick up a crucial kill against Lampasas in a 3-0 victory on Tuesday. (Kathy Canady Photo)

By Taylor Grafft

The Liberty Hill fans, parents, coaches, and players were all wearing pink Tuesday night as Panthers hosted their 4th annual Pink Game versus Lampasas. The players helped raise money by selling t-shirts before the game, with all proceeds going to cancer research.

According to the coaches, the Pink game creates a unique and fun atmosphere for a good cause. They say the players really enjoy wearing pink and helping out by contributing to a good cause.

“It’s always a fun game and the girls always get into it,” said Coach Gretchen Peterson. “The girls do a great job promoting and selling shirts to their families. It’s a good cause and a good way for us to give back. The girls really rally around it and it’s good for our community and helps raise awareness.”

It was also a special night as Liberty Hill honored Linda Bode, who is retiring and staffing her last match. The Liberty Hill players gave her high fives during the pre-game lineup announcements to show her their appreciation for her work through the years.

Liberty Hill also picked up their fourth district win of the season when they swept and dominated Lampasas 3-0 (25-6, 25-9, 25-5). The Panthers never let their opponents reach double-digit points in the match.

Senior outside hitter Jill Green led the Panthers on offense and finished with 12 kills. Senior Peyton Redmond followed her teammate with 11 kills.

Junior middle blocker Allee Nix had one of her best games as a Panther as she played outstanding on defense and offense. The junior finished with seven kills and three blocks.

“Allee’s timing and confidence is really coming together this season,” said Peterson. “She’s becoming a real force in the middle for us and she balances Green, Redmond and Jaycie (Pluenneke) well. She’s a hard worker and it’s good to see that pay off for her.”

Senior setter Kelly McKinzey finished with 22 assists in the match. Senior Sarah Philpott led the Panthers in serving with two aces.

Although the Badgers were not much of a challenge Tuesday, the Panthers remained focused and kept up the intensity for the entire match, something Coach Peterson liked about her team’s play.

The match also was another opportunity for Peterson to give her bench players a lot of time on the court, especially the three juniors who will provide depth once playoffs start and be vital next season.

Last Friday, the Panthers defeated the Salado Eagles 3-1 (21-25, 25-11, 25-10, 25-12) in their third district match of the season. The Panthers got off to a slow start against the Eagles and dropped the first game.

Liberty Hill battled back and dominated the next three games to take the match. Coach Peterson admitted that her team passed the ball better in games two, three, and four, which was a key to the victory.

“(In those games) we started passing the ball better, so Kelly (McKinzey) had more options to spread the ball around,” said Peterson. “The good plays from Allee (Nix) and Jaycie (Pluenneke) in the middle opened up the outside for (Peyton) Redmond and Jill (Green).”

Junior Varsity

The Liberty Hill Junior Varsity Panthers defeated Salado 2-0 (25-11, 26-24) last Friday. Andi Graves led the Panthers with four kills, two blocks, two aces and two digs. Hailey Barrows finished with three kills and three blocks. Kelsey Hamrick finished with five digs, while Joely Williamson finished with two digs. Darby Huggins finished the match with three assists.