WAXAHACHIE — A third-set lull may not have ever factored into the overall outcome of a volleyball match between Waxahachie and Mansfield Summit on Friday afternoon, but it sure brought plenty of late-game excitement.
After the Lady Indians handily won the first two sets 25-15, 25-15, the Lady Jaguars capitalized on a sudden onset case of passing hiccups for the Lady Indians to take a seven-point lead late into set No. 3.
Clutch late-game serving by Sara Sims and Anna Rodgers combined with three kills by Lacy Mott brought (20-12, 3-2) Waxahachie all the way back against (13-13, 1-3) Mansfield Summit for the straight-set sweep, 25-15, 25-15, 27-25.
Lacy Mott, who posted a game-high 17 kills, found success attacking from the back row early while the Lady Indian offense was in a 5-1 attack, which, as Faussett explained, gives Stoops another option to set in addition to the two outside hitters up front.
“She hits it really, really well,” Faussett added. “They (Summit) started sitting on her a little bit, so we had to come off of it in the third set because it was getting blocked. When they start to stop it, then you have to do something else.”
In addition to Mott, Essence Clerkley added 10 kills, Macie Milholen had 8, Ryleigh Horn 7, and Courtney Crownover 3. As a team, the Lady Indians attacked to the tune of a .370 hitting percentage.
"I think the Taylor-Essence connection, we call that a 'zip' when it is away from the setter, connected over and over and over and it was nice to see that,” said Faussett of Clerkley who turned 17 on Friday. “I think tonight was one of the strongest games Essence has played this year. She did a great job tonight and blocking, as well."
"[...] That is a good blocking team and they have a lot of athletic front row girls. We have been struggling using our middles. Essence was coming in quick for quicks and was coming in fast enough to hold the block. I thought Ryleigh [Horn] did a good job of it, too. I was really pleased with our middle blockers today."
Faussett also pointed to Baylee Whitehead who had quite the passing game. The sophomore finished with 12-of-her-14 passes finding their target. Alli Wells was also 4-of-5.
Sims led the team with 12 digs, while Wells added nine, and Ragan Ward, Whitehead, and Mott each had six.
Fresh off of her record-breaking assist performance Tuesday night, Taylor Stoops led the way with 36 assists against Summit. The senior's 49 assists Tuesday against Midlothian broke the school record of 43 previously held by Stoops (2016) and Melissa Vargas (2006).
*Editor's note: The Daily Light previously reported Stoops to have 40 assists during the Tuesday match, even though her mother told us otherwise. Trust the mom, not the internet.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Waxahachie jumped out to a 9-1 lead in set one before Damilola Dada sent a kill to the back row. Two serves later, Crownover followed a Clerkley block with a kill for a 10-3 Lady Indian lead.
After Clerkley finished a Stoops set with a kill through the middle of the Summit defense, the Lady Jaguars went on a 5-0 run to pull within five before a service error put the Lady Indians up 19-13.
Waxahachie ended the set on a 6-2 run for the 25-15 win.
With Whitehead serving to start the second set, Waxahachie scored four of the first five points, highlighted by an ace that painted the right boundary line.
Clerkley found a pair of kills in the middle of the set off of low-played assists from Stoops and Mott. The second put Waxahachie up 15-9.
The lead ballooned to 20-10 on back-to-back kills by Milholen and Mott. Mott followed with a second-straight kill from the back row to force a Summit timeout with Waxahachie leading 21-10.
Waxahachie, again, cruised to the set win by the same score as the first, 25-15.
Though neither team began the third set with any rhythm, Mott and Milholen starting opposite of each other on the floor proved significant for the Lady Indians. Though Mott finished the set with three huge kills, it was Milholen who kept Waxahachie close with four early daggers.
"She set [the late run] up beautifully with no errors and four kills in a row," said Faussett of Milholen. "Those were our only four kills at a time when we really needed them.”
After a Waxahachie passing error tied the set at seven-all, an ace by Peyton Sursa and kill from Dada had Summit on top 9-7. The string of plays also forced the first Faussett timeout of the match.
The lead grew to six points, 14-8, behind kills from Dada, Anna Tackett, and Janya Johnson. Though Stoops set up Clerkley for a zip in the middle to put a temporary stop on the bleeding, Summit eventually ran the lead to 19-14.
But, with Anna Rodgers serving, the Lady Indians climbed back within two, 19-17.
Two Waxahachie errors and a Summit dump put the Lady Jaguars back on top by five, 22-17.
With their backs against the wall and Summit at game point, the Lady Indians began their comeback.
Sims recorded a team-high 13 service points on the night, but none were bigger than during the 7-0 run by the Lady Indians to battle back from 24-17 to tie the set.
"She serves a good floater anyway which lets her come off of the aggressiveness a little bit and still have an effective serve, and she did a really good job with it,” Faussett said.
A Sims ace, two Mott kills, and three Lady Jaguar errors pulled Waxahachie to within two, 24-23.
Mott recorded her match-high 17th kill to push the Lady Indians to match point a few serves later (which was also after a nifty Sims dive to her left for a one-handed save).
The final Summit miscue on the evening came on the next serve to complete the Waxahachie comeback and three-set sweep, 25-15, 25-15, 27-25.
Waxahachie returns to the court Tuesday at home against (15-17, 3-2) Mansfield Legacy. The Lady Broncos and Lady Indians are tied for the fourth spot in the District 10-5A standings. The first serve is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.