Lady Riders advance to first round of volleyball playoffs

Center falls to Mexia in Tuesday night matches
“Our district is really tough, and we don’t go down without a fight,” said Center’s first-year coach Karrie Hargrave. “I’m really proud of the way we played.”

Fourth-place teams have a rough row to hoe in the bi-district playoffs, having to play the first-place team from the other district.

The Center Lady Riders had an even more daunting task of playing a Mexia team that was undefeated in district play.

Still, the Lady Riders had their moments in a never-say-die three-game sweep at the hands of the Lady Blackcats on Friday night at Rusk High School Coliseum. Scores were 25-18, 25-8, 25-22.

“Our district is really tough, and we don’t go down without a fight,” said Center’s first-year coach Karrie Hargrave. “I’m really proud of the way we played.”

The two teams traded leads early in the first match, with Center taking a slim 12-11 lead – well, what should have been a lead. However, the official scorekeepers attributed a point incorrectly and Mexia was given the lead, despite the Lady Riders’ protests. They kept their composure, though, and worked their way to a 16-14 lead.

The hits dried up from there, as Mexia scored five consecutive points, three on Center errors, to take a 19-16 lead. Center got back within one point before Mexia closed out the match.

The second match didn’t go as well for the Lady Riders, and they were never able to take a lead. The Lady ’Cats went on several scoring runs, the last one seven points took them to a 22-7 lead. After a Mexia hitting error, Ja’Kayla Parks came through with a big block that got the crowd into it. But, Mexia came right back and finished out the game.

Center showed its resilience in the third match, taking a 4-0 lead. Shayna Williams got things started with an ace and then two more serves the Lady ’Cats couldn’t return.

Center took advantage of several Mexia miscues to take an 8-5 lead. However, the Lady ’Cats returned to form and came back to take a 10-9 lead. Center then came right back with a Parks kill on a Mexia over-pass and then two Mexia errors.

From there Mexia was able to sprinkle enough spikes amid hitting errors to take and maintain the lead. After two Mexia hitting errors helped Center tie the game at 21, a Baylea Bressman game the Lady Riders the lead and hope of the match continuing to the fourth set.

But, Mexia’s Bailey Thompson would have none of that. She pushed a shot to a hole in the Center defense and after two errors, finished out the match with another kill.

Malaisha Cartwright finished the night with a kill and two digs, as did KeKe Gardner. Jasmine Cooks recorded two blocks, and Parks finished with the block and a kill. Katelyn Bolton recorded four digs and a kill, while Bressman finished with two aces and four digs. Skylar Causey added two digs to the Center effort.