Lady Panthers Take Down Chapel Hill On Wild Night In Bullard
BULLARD -- The Lady Panthers drew an impressive crowd their home gym Tuesday evening for their matchup with Chapel Hill. Fans got their money's worth.
Bullard survived a District 16-4A marathon match with a fifth set win, 22-25, 25-14, 18-25, 25-17, 15-9.
"You can't describe emotions like this," head coach Ben Belshaw said. "It was back-and-forth, back-and-forth. I knew it was going to be a battle with Chapel Hill. We always play them tough and they play us tough. It's hard to contain the emotion. The energy was there and just the desire to win."
The Lady Bulldogs, 0-2 in the district, wanted it as well. They battled the crowd, a Bullard pep band and the Lady Panthers for their own strong moments.
Chapel Hill opened the match on a 9-2 run and fought off Bullard (19-14, 2-0) at the end of the first set.
But there was something about the home side of the court all night. No team won when working the north end of the floor.
"Every time we were on our home side, we lost and looked terrible," Belshaw said. "Then we'd go to the other side and win. Game five was set to where we wanted it. We were receiving and on the side we wanted. Somehow, that worked in our favor."
Chapel Hill gave up a 5-3 lead in the decisive frame, rallied for a tie at 7-all and then was outscored 8-2 in the final stretch with three unforced errors in the final run.
Bullard middle blocker Ashtyn Zamazal ended the game with a blash, a one-handed block that came off her faster than the initial offensive hit from Chapel Hill.
"She's one that's got some size and she's really gotten better and better," Belshaw said. "It was nice to have her play good tonight. She really picked it up and made some good things happen. She rules the net and when she has confidence in herself she plays real good."
Outside hitter Mackenzie Fish, a UT-Tyler commit, led a well-rounded Bullard effort with 17 kills and an ace.
Setter Rachel Kelley led the way with 21 assists and added two aces and a kill.
The Lady Bulldogs seemed to feed off of senior Schuyler Wages' hustle. She finished her night with 12 kills and three aces. Adreyanna Barnes recorded 22 assists in addition to nine kills and three aces.
"There were some jitters tonight," Belshaw said. "We had a good crowd tonight. Our student section was bigger than it normally is. Our band was here. I think that caused us some jitters. Chapel Hill, they had to deal with the crowd noise themselves. You never know what can happen in that environment, but I was glad we got consistent when we needed to."
District action continues Friday for both teams.
Chapel Hill will visit Kilgore. Bullard hits the road for a match against a very solid Spring Hill team that is ranked No. 11 state-wide in Class 4A.
Tuesday was a night for the Lady Panthers to celebrate though. They overcame a slew of obstacles, looked like a strong team when it counted and still completely control their own destiny.
"We just played scrappy," Belshaw said. "Our whole team, we would have bad moments and find a way to pull out of them. That was a big factor for us tonight. It was a full team effort."