WHITEHOUSE -- Pine Tree prepared for the District 14-4A schedule with a four-game win Tuesday night at Whitehouse that gives the Lady Pirates their fifth consecutive 20-win season under coach Leven Barker.

Pine Tree, ranked eighth in the Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 4A poll released Tuesday, rallied in the fourth game to prevent the match from going to a fifth, 25-21, 18-25, 25-18, 25-23. The win gives Pine Tree a 20-5 record entering 14-4A competition at Sulphur Springs on Friday.

Setter Emily Shelton led PT with four kills, two blocks, 34 assists, and 14 digs, while Mackenzie Richardson had a team-high 13 kills and seven digs. Sky Holmes added 12 kills, three blocks, and an ace.

Pine Tree's Mackenzie Richardson. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)
Pine Tree's Devin Assenheimer. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

 

Pine Tree trailed 12-4 and 18-11 in Game 4 before rallying for the win. Holmes' back-to-back block and kill tied the game 21-21, which was that set's first tie since 2-2. Whitehouse briefly regained the lead on Kaitlyn Anderson's kill, but Richardson, Devin Assenheimer, and Kerri Johnson recorded consecutive kills to seal the match for PT, 25-23.

 

"I think we made a lot of errors. We caught up and made it 12-10, then we hit five balls out in a row. That's something we've got to eliminate," said Pine Tree coach Leven Barker, who got his 401st win. "But some of those girls that hit those balls out came back again right behind that and hit the ball down for us. ... Anytime you can win in Whitehouse, that's a good win."

Shelton assisted four of Pine Tree's final seven points, including the trio of match-ending kills.

"After Game 2 I thought she played really, really good," Barker said. "I think Emily's probably the best setter in East Texas, and she's got to play that way every night for us to be successful."

Pine Tree's Darby Davis. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Assenheimer and McKaylla Baylor had five kills apiece for Pine Tree, which got two kills, three assists, and 12 digs from Johnson. Kennedy Sampson had two kills and 18 digs. Angel Jordan had 14 digs, while Darby Davis had one ace and 13 digs.

Pine Tree overcame Whitehouse's Fulani Petties, who had a match-high 14 kills, two blocks, and 28 digs. Teammate Angela Knight had seven kills and seven assists, and Anderson and Ashton Ates had three kills apiece. Ates also had two blocks. Bonnie Cotton and Lindsey Hannah had 24 and 18 digs, respectively, for Whitehouse, which enters District 16-4A play with a 16-10 record.

Baylor, Assenheimer, and Johnson had four of Pine Tree's final eight kills in the deciding game. Barker said their development has helped take pressure off players such as Holmes and Richardson.

"Those are kids that had to come into a bigger role (going into the season) and five or six weeks later they're getting better," Barker said. "That's what we want. You can see their confidence growing. We're starting to get a whole lot of confidence on the outsides and McKaylla's rolling right along. You want to slowly get better and that's what those kids have done."

Pine Tree plays at Sulphur Springs in Friday's 14-4A opener before hosting Texas High on Tuesday. Whitehouse opens 16-4A play at Nacogdoches on Friday. The LadyCats travel to Lindale on Tuesday.