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Tyler Lee Defeats Crosstown Rival John Tyler, Quitman in Tri-Match

Tyler Lee's Taylor Winchester makes a return against John Tyler during their match Tuesday in Tyler. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

TYLER — Tyler Lee made it look easy at times Tuesday night against crosstown rival John Tyler, but there were times the Lady Lions made a serious push even without their head coach.

Lee won its annual match with John Tyler 25-14, 22-25, 25-15, 26-24 at Lee Varsity Gymnasium in the Lady Raiders’ final tune-up before beginning play in District 12-5A.

The Lady Raiders (14-7) swept Quitman 25-14, 25-21, 25-9 in the first of three matches on Tuesday, while John Tyler took care of Quitman in four games, 25-21, 27-29, 25-18, 25-13.

The Lady Lions played without head coach Stephanie March-Smith, who had surgery to repair a torn achilles suffered last month. Assistant Lamesa Derrett served as her replacement.

Mallory Kuechle had 16 kills to lead Lee in the win over John Tyler. Kenshai Moseley and Alexis Crowder combined for 21 kills and Melissa Menard posted 28 assists to lead Lee.

The Lady Lions were led by Amicia Williams, who had 16 kills. Erica Franklin added 13 kills, while Quaneshia Johnson poured in a match-high 33 assists.

“Most of those seniors knew this was their last night to play Robert E. Lee in their high school career,” Derrett said. “They wanted it, but we just fell short.”

Consecutive kills by Franklin evened the fourth set, 23-23, but Lee scored three of the game’s final four points from three different players — Moseley, Kuechle and Rebekah Bowden.

“A lot of them stepped up when we needed them to,” Lee coach Melissa Lee said. “That was good to see because a lot of times we haven’t been doing that, especially in a tight game like that.”

In JT’s win over Quitman, Franklin and Williams combined for 22 kills and Johnson chipped in with 26 assists. Quitman was led by Destiny Diggs’ 13 kills and Beth Noble’s 26 assists.

“I thought they did a good job,” Derrett said. “They came back; we were up and down — a lot of emotions going on because (Coach March-Smith) wasn’t here. They still fought back and they showed heart. Like I told them, if they really want it they can get it.”

Kuechle had 12 kills to key Lee’s sweep of Quitman, while Menard and Chelsea Geter combined for 21 assists. The combination of Diggs (nine kills) and Noble (12 assists) led the way for Quitman.

Coach Lee said her left-side defense will need to get better before Friday’s district opener against Rockwall-Heath.

“We weren’t blocking anything (on the left side),” Lee said. “Rockwall-Heath has a really good outside hitter that we’re going to have to stop, so we’re going to have to make an adjustment for Friday.”

Lee plays in the White Oak tournament Thursday before its match with Heath, and returns to White Oak on Saturday. John Tyler plays at Marshall on Friday, while Quitman competes in the White Oak tourney this weekend.

Tyler Lee's Melissa Menard (6) celebrates during the Lady Raiders' match against John Tyler on Tuesday. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

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