Audrey Slaten Erupts To Help Hallsville Volleyball Sweep Tyler Lee
HALLSVILLE -- Tyler Lee had some things going for it Tuesday facing East Texas' historically best big school program. It largely forced Hallsville to win against good serving and a strong front court.
But, just when the Lady Raiders got slightly comfortable with a 21-18 lead in the second set after a first set loss, Ladycats senior hitter Audrey Slaten found her own groove and reeled off eight of the next nine Hallsville points for a second set win and then the framework for a pretty easy third set.
Slaten and company won the match, 25-19, 26-24, 25-15. It was Hallsville's bounce back from the Allen Tournament against some of the Metroplex's best teams this past weekend, and it elevated the squad to a 10-6 overall record.
"We got down," Slaten said. "That's happened a lot this year with challenging tournaments, where we get down. I guess we haven't been able to pick ourselves back up like that ever. When I realized we were down and that I was kind of on a roll with my swings, I knew I had to keep it and keep going. I thought I could help."
Slaten scored 13 of her match-best 23 points after the contest just barely teetered toward Lee (7-6).
Paired with two Lee hits for scoring attempts that sailed out of bounds, the Ladycats built a 5-1 third set lead and never looked back.
The Lady Raiders never again got within two points and ultimately lost the decisive set on the wrong end of a 6-0 run.
"Stringing points togethers, that's been one of our focuses here lately," Hallsville first-year head coach Cara Collum said. "When we have our serve, we need to keep our serve and string points together no matter what. We need to fight for every point so that we can take momentum.
"Coming out in that third game and stringing them together, I told them in the huddle that was our focus. That's what they did. We got ahead. That was very important for us."
Hallsville has a great history with its setter play. Senior Melody Weaver and sophomore Gracie Floyd recorded 22 and 12 assists, respectively, during the match and appear to be coming into their own.
Right side hitter Alia Horaney, a junior, randomly recorded two assists.
Only 10 points Hallsville scored -- with exception to five aced serves -- were not set up by teammates toward 51 earned points.
Lee chipped in the remaining 24 points needed for the Ladycats to win on various mistakes such as hitting the ball out of bounds on a scoring attempt, hitting the net, serves hitting the net and violations over the net.
"These girls want to compete and they want to be the best versions of themselves," Collum said. "They come in ready to work and ready to improve. Our two setters that ran the floor tonight didn't run the floor 100 percent of the time last year. So, although they ran the floor well, they are even having some moments that are new to them. They're doing a good job of working in practice and improving every day."
The Lady Raiders were led in defeat by blocker April Brown and hitter De'Ja Hamilton. Both scored seven points.
Aliyah Shirley, a freshman, tied for the Lady Raiders lead in assists with nine and added two aces.
Lee earned 38 of its 58 points through the match. Hallsville's various mistakes made up the rest of the total.
The Ladycats will be on the road Friday and Saturday for their next competitions as part of the Tyler Invitational Tournament field.
Lee, naturally, will be at the tournament as well.
"I'm learning that they never count themselves out," Collum said after completing her 16th match in charge of the Ladycats program. "They come in every day with a fresh mindset. I can tell in practice. We had a rough weekend this weekend. We played some good volleyball, but we'd have our down moments. They came in Monday and they were warming up as soon as everybody got on the court. They didn't have to be told what to do.
"They were ready. They were eager. They want to learn. These kids, they want to learn no matter what their ages are. Seniors down to sophomores on the team, they all are willing and want to learn. A lot of the times, you don't get that with upperclassmen. I think that's what's different about them."