MANSFIELD —Waxahachie High School earned back-to-back wins against DeSoto and Haslet Eaton High Schools on Thursday at Mansfield Summit High School during the Mansfield Sunrise Rotary Volleyball Tournament.
Waxahachie defeated DeSoto High School 25-14 and 25-18 in a sweep during the first match of Pool 2 play and faced Eaton's Lady Eagles in round two.
A pair of aces from senior setter Taylor Stoops helped the Lady Indians build an 11-9 first set lead. Kills by sophomore middle blocker Madison Babers, junior outside hitter Macie Milholen and junior setter and outside hitter Anna Rodgers helped Waxahachie earn a 21-14 advantage.
They closed the set with three unanswered points via a Ragan Ward ace and two Essence Clerkley kills.
The Lady Eagles mounted a comeback in the second, though, closing the distance three separate times, fending off a furious Lady Indian rally and sparking their own — despite a set tying kill by junior outside hitter Courtney Crownover — to the tune of a 17-15 lead and a 7-1 swing.
Haslet Eaton took the second set 25-17.
In the third and final set, Waxahachie tacked on a second victory to its win streak. After the Lady Eagles took an early 5-2 lead, the Lady Indians — with the help of three Haslet Eaton hitting errors, aces from senior outside hitter Ryleigh Horn and kills from Clerkley, Stoops and sophomore outside hitter Lacy Mott — scored six consecutive points.
The Lady Eagles, however, rallied again and drew the set to a 16-16 deadlock and then a 17-16 one-point lead. It would be the last points they'd score in the match.
Mott, who landed a kill to push the Lady Indians lead to two points, helped spark an eight-point run to end the match. A pair of combination stuff blocks by Babers and Stoops and Babers and Mott helped ground the Lady Eagles.
Back-to-back kills by Mott and Stoops sealed the win.
Against Keller Central High School, the District 3-6A No. 3 seed and an area round competitor last season, Waxahachie used a five-point run to take a 5-1 lead in the early moments of the first set. Moments later, Milholen and Mott accounted for five consecutive — including back-to-back-to-back kills by the former and a laser-like ace from the latter that ricocheted off a Keller Central player's forearms and into the sideline.
Another late run, sparked by Stoops' deft over-the-fingertips tip, pushed the score to 24-17. Her set-ending kill clinched the first for the Lady Indians 25-20.
Waxahachie took the final set 25-19 behind the power of kills from six different players. Rodgers had four kills in the final set and Clerkley and Horn added scoring blocks. After scoring after the initial serve, Keller Central never regained the lead in either set.
The (3-2) Lady Indians lost their season openers to UIL 6A Prosper and 5A Wakeland High School on Monday. They joined 38 teams from the UIL's top two conferences, including the likes of Coppell, Denton Guyer and Mansfield Timberview High Schools.
Waxahachie was also without junior middle hitter Audrey Nalls, a Texas Christian University verbal commitment, MaxPreps 2016 Underclass All-American Volleyball Team member and the reigning District 10-5A MVP after posting 683 kills (4.6 per set average), 405 digs and 151 blocks.
She will be sidelined to at least September with an undisclosed injury.
The Lady Indians will move into Pool 12 play on Friday and play Timbercreek High School at noon, Mansfield Legacy High School at 2 p.m. and Midland High School at 5 p.m. All games will be played at Mansfield Summit.
Marcus S. Marion is the sports editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light and Midlothian Mirror. He can be reached by phone at (469) 517-1456 or across social media platforms @MarcusSMarion.