GILMER -- The Lady Buckeyes didn't have many issues en route to a 3-0 sweep of Kilgore in Tuesday's District 16-4A game, a 25-20, 25-14, 25-15 win.

Gilmer advanced to 14-19 overall and 4-2 in district play. It's creeping closer to a .500 record and there's no doubt in Upshur County the team has turned a corner. The Lady Buckeyes had to hold Kilgore off in five sets just three weeks ago.

"This helps us contest for the second place spot," Gilmer head coach Keely Peterson said. "We were in a three-way tie coming into today. This one was big for us, and we're excited to see where we can go from here."

Gilmer's Maci Ritter finished the match with eight kills. (Mike Davis,

The key to any athletic success is being consistent. Peterson's team looked organized in its sets and generally was able to counter Kilgore (2-14, 1-4) effectively.

Senior setters Jaci Traylor and Maddie Woodard played a big part in the victory with 13 assists and nine assists, respectively. Woodard scored on five aces and a kill to Traylor's one kill and an ace.

"Our setting position is big," Peterson said. "And they know they're looking at doing something big. They're filling a big hole that we've been missing and they've improved drastically this year. They've grown and are really controlling the tempo of our game."

It didn't take long for Gilmer to click offensively and compliment senior middle blocker Maci Ritter's strong play at the front of the net.

The first set featured four lead changes to a five-all score. At that point, Traylor began leading the Lady Buckeyes to the critical win. The team used a 7-3 run, highlighted by two Woodard aces in a four-serve stint, to outlast Kilgore down the stretch.

The Lady Bulldogs struggled for momentum early in the second game, committing a net violation and two hits out of bounds. It allowed Gilmer to open an 8-2 lead with Ritter, Destiny Brooks and Allie Fennell scoring two points apiece in the run.

Kilgore drew as close as 15-12, but it surrendered a 10-1 run capped by Brooks' fourth kill of the frame.

Gilmer head coach Keely Peterson's team broke a three-way tie for second place in District 16-4A Tuesday with the win against Kilgore (Mike Davis,

The Lady Buckeyes gave up a two-point lead to open the third game but grappled with the Lady Bulldogs to a 7-7 score. Gilmer put together an 11-1 thanks to two more Woodard aces, a Woodard assist and an assist by Traylor to cruise to a 25-15 score.

"We tried a couple of new things in the match and the girls tried really hard with them," Peterson said. "They did. They played together as a team. Couldn't be prouder."

Gilmer will visit Spring Hill at 6 p.m. Saturday. Spring Hill, the No. 13 team in Class 4A state-wide, is one of the proudest East Texas programs in recent history. The Lady Buckeyes' senior class has never been able to beat Spring Hill and most recently dropped a Sept. 30 meeting in straight sets.

Kilgore will try to rebound Saturday at Gladewater, a 1 p.m. start.

"I want to see us mesh even more going forward," Peterson said. "This is a completely different team than we had last year. We've been growing through the season. We're definitely a different team than we were game one of the season."

Lady Buckeyes junior blocker Belynda Ray goes for the win with a hit over Kilgore's Mikayla Thomas. (Mike Davis,