Tyler Lee Sweeps Rusk to Secure Coach Melissa Lee’s 500th Career Win
TYLER -- A strong front-line performance delivered a 25-12, 25-21, 25-13 home-opener sweep of Rusk for Tyler Lee, which gave seventh-year head coach Melissa Lee her 500th career win.
Pine Tree and New Diana denied Lee of her milestone victory in Tuesday night's tri-match at PT, but she enjoyed reaching that plateau in the Lee Varsity Gymnasium.
"Sometimes you never think you'll get there (to 500 wins)," said Lee, who came to Tyler Lee in 2006 after a successful stint at Texarkana Pleasant Grove. "I think they did a great job. I was kind of hoping it would have come before now, but no coach likes to ever lose. It was nice to get our first win at home and for it to be the 500th."
Playing without standout Mallory Kuechle, a Texas Woman's University commit, at the net, the Lady Raiders (6-6) got solid performances from multiple players. Rebekah Bowden had six kills and five blocks, four of which came in the match-ending third game.
"We've been working on blocking, and tonight she really did a great job reading that lot better," Lee said. "I hope we can just improve from there."
Tyler Lee's Jaina Giddens had six kills, while Alexis Crowder added four kills, one block, and two aces. Caroline Lynch had four kills and one block, and Kenshai Moseley chipped in with three kills.
Crowder said the Lady Raiders were ready to play without Kuechle, who has been ill.
"Coach Lee during practice actually prepared us for a time if Mallory was not in the game," Crowder said. "I feel like we are prepared and it builds our confidence, so when Mallory does come back, it's even more kills on top of that."
Crowder, a senior, was happy to deliver her coach the milestone win.
"It's really, really exciting because it seems like we were at 499 for a good minute," Crowder said. "We really wanted to make her proud."
Taylor Winchester led Tyler Lee with 20 digs to accompany her one kill and one ace. Gentry Townsend had five digs and two aces. Melissa Menard had 13 assists, and Chelsea Geter had four assists and one ace.
Rusk's Juliann Bowling dished out a match-high 17 assists, while Shayla Townsend and Emily Price each had four kills and two blocks. Gabby Willis led Rusk (5-5) with six kills. Chelsie Daniels added three kills.
Tyler Lee took control of first game with a 6-0 run for a 15-8 advantage that ballooned to 22-10. The Lady Raiders scored the second game's first six points, but Rusk fought back and tied Lee 21-21 before a Lynch kill sparked a 4-0 run that closed the game for a 2-0 Lady Raider advantage.
Rusk led 4-2 in Game 3, but a 14-0 Lady Raider run swung the momentum. Rusk staved off defeat with a 5-0 spurt after falling behind 24-8, but Bowden ended the match with a block for a 25-13 Game 3 victory.
Tyler Lee travels to Hallsville on Tuesday. Rusk plays in the Marshall Tournament on Friday and Saturday before going to White Oak for a Tuesday tri-match with the Ladynecks and John Tyler.