Fourth-Ranked Emory Rains Powers Past Henderson in Sweep
LINDALE -- The Emory Rains Lady Cats have dominated the competition for most of the season, and that didn't stop Thursday night.
Fourth-ranked Rains relied on the size and strength of its front line and the savvy setups from its junior setter to dominate Henderson, 25-20, 25-16, 25-17, in their Class 4A Region II area-round playoff.
The Lady Cats (36-7) will face Paris North Lamar next Tuesday in the regional quarterfinals at a location still to be determined. Henderson, the second-place finishers out of District 16-4A, concluded its season at 26-14.
Armed with three six-footers at the net, Rains countered Henderson's attackers with 13 blocks on the night, and relied on the power of senior hitter Charlotte Bradshaw on offense.
“We work really hard and we’re super aggressive at the net," said Rains coach Kim Talkington. "We’ve got some size, so that really helps. It gets in (the opponent’s) head early.”
Bradshaw finished the night with a match-high 12 kills, but it could've been more if not for a strong effort from Henderson's wall of defense at the net that produced 12 blocks of their own.
“(Henderson) keyed in (defensively on Bradshaw) tonight, and she does not like to get blocked," Talkington said. "She got blocked a couple times tonight, and that kinda made her mad. But she can get up and she sees the court so well, and she knows where to put it.”
Sophomore McKenna Hildebrant added seven kills and a team-high six blocks on the night, while Delaney Hill racked up five kills and three blocks. Bradshaw also registered a team-best 15 digs, while Kenna Kellam and Anna Hooten combined for 26 digs.
Setter Shelbi Sheppard was the driving force all night, assisting on 28 points to go along with four aces.
“She is the offense, she puts the ball exactly where the hitters need it, and she makes just such smart decisions," Talkington said of Sheppard.
Henderson was led in defeat by Tomariyah Dixon, who finished with six kills and seven blocks. Kylie Carroll added six kills as well, while Kassi Freeman and Addy Trasher collected five and four kills, respectively. Hannah Perry had 19 assists, while Baylee Bowman contributed four blocks to the cause.
North Lamar is next on the schedule for Rains in a loaded Region II, which also features East Texas heavyweights Carthage and Gilmer, and perennial state powerhouse Argyle.
“I think we’ve peaked at the right time, and we’re going to continue to just get better and better," Talkington added.