HALLSVILLE -- Things weren't looking good for the Ladycats early in their opening tri-match set against Spring Hill.

The Lady Panthers cruised to a 14-5 first set lead Tuesday and won the first frame 25-13. But with setter Haley Boyett and a grown up Hallsville cast, teams can't expect to walk out with an easy win.

Hallsville won the remaining sets against Spring Hill for a 13-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-15 victory to open the day and then swept White Oak, 25-22, 25-14, 25-10, in the nightcap.

"I wasn't pleased with how they started against Spring Hill, but coming back and fighting and showing that's not the way we're playing was really positive," Ladycats head coach Kayla Jackson said. "These are two great teams in East Texas and to come out with two wins is really good. We didn't come out this way last year."

The win against the Spring Hill served as the Lady Panthers' first loss of the season. The opponent dropped to 6-1 before notching a three-set sweep against White Oak in the next match.

Boyett chipped in 27 assists and three aces to overpower the strong Spring Hill program. She added another 21 assists against White Oak.

"It's my job to basically lead the team by giving them the ball," Boyett said. "There is pressure sometimes, but I just have to overlook all of that and be a leader."

Tuesday was the first time Hallsville (9-1) defeated Spring Hill in the seniors' four years at the school.

The Ladycats entered the meeting after enjoying a 6-1 stint in Garland last week.

Hallsville defeated North Mesquite, John Tyler, Naaman Forest and Carthage in the run for the Garland Tournament title. Carrollton Prince of Peace was able to derail the squad with a two-set sweep, but it responded with a win against Wylie and knocked off Naaman Forest once again to win the consolation bracket.

The Ladycats essentially finished the tournament in fifth-place.

"From our Dallas tournament this past weekend, there were some really good teams there," senior middle blocked Allison Lawrence said. " Seeing how far we were able to go was a really good thing."

There is some tradition in Hallsville already. Boyett, Lawrence and company were able to escape District 14-4A play unbeaten and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.

The new league, District 15-5A, features the same teams plus Longview and Greenville. Longview moved down from the old Class 5A to join the group.

Performances like Tuesday's show the squad it has what it takes to make a similar run. But a deeper trip into the playoffs is the main goal.

The team caught Spring Hill head coach Karen Brundrett's eye. Her 2013 team made it to the Class 3A Region II championship game.

"Hallsville has quality players," she said. "They have worked very hard to get to this point and they brought the heat. It was a good match for us to face. I thought they were the better team tonight. We made too many mistakes, so that made the difference."

Ann Hollas led the Lady Panthers with 25 assists and 15 kills in the Hallsville match.

The Ladycats, meanwhile, moved on to face White Oak. The Lady Necks have a younger team, but they're no strangers against larger school opponents.

White Oak handed Tyler Lee a five-set loss last week. Lee has not lost since, winning the Longview tournament to wrap up its first week of the season and sweeping Pine Tree elsewhere in Tuesday's East Texas action.

Hallsville struggled out to a 22-20 first set lead but finished the frame with a 5-2 run. The next two sets were decided by a combined score of 50-23 with plenty of blocks along the way.

Outside hitter Erin McCallum led the way with 10 kills against White Oak. Audrey Slaten, Savannah McAmis and Lawrence were other front row players with at least five kills in the match.

"They're swinging very well," Jackson said. "Normally our front row is where we struggle. We get all these servicing passes and don't put them away. This year, we're being able to connect and finishing out some points."

 

Spring Hill Rallies Against White Oak

The Lady Panthers bounced right back from the loss against the Ladycats for a 25-12, 25-20, 25-14 win against White Oak on Hallsville's home court.

Ann Hollas led the way with nine kills and 18 assists.

"I think our kids rebounded well from the loss," Brundrett said. "We had a talk in the hall and they realized they controlled some of that. It could have been the same way against White Oak had we not changed some of the mistakes. And those were just missed assignments. Trying to do too much. Trying to serve too hard. We made that adjustment."

Brundrett pointed out five failed serves against Hallsville cost it the third set, a 25-21 loss.

The Lady Panthers successfully placed 91 percent of their serves in play against White Oak. Spring Hill scored 44 points on sequences it began with a successful serve, including five aces.

Camie Copeland and Mikai Brown recorded 11 digs and 10 digs, respectively, to take away 21 potential points from the Lady Necks.

Spring Hill (7-1) will square off with Pine Tree next week and will spend the following weekend at Waco Robinson's tournament.

"We'll get to see totally different schools that you don't play here," "Brundrett said. "You walk in the gym, don't know anything about them and play them. It's like the playoffs."