CORINTH — There were times Tuesday night when the Lake Dallas volleyball team did not look like a squad with only two seniors, or a team struggling to stay out of last place in the district standings.
And then there were times when Lake Dallas’ youth was apparent — crucial momentum-swinging moments that did not go the Lady Falcons’ way.
Azle fought off Lake Dallas and picked up a 25-15, 25-23, 25-23 sweep at Lake Dallas in the District 5-4A match. The loss eliminated Lake Dallas from the playoff hunt for the second straight season.
Even though her roster has only two seniors, Lake Dallas head coach Heather Van Noy refused to blame the team’s struggles on inexperience.
“I don’t know what it is,” Van Noy said. “I can’t blame the youth anymore, as much as I want to. It’s not even my freshmen that are hurting me. It’s just that overall we are sitting back and watching the game happen and then playing whatever happens to us instead of anticipating what the other team is about to do and looking at their body language.”
Azle entered the match in third place in the district standings.
Cassie Garnett led the Lady Falcons with eight kills and 12 digs. Megan Turner added eight digs, while freshman setter Jennifer Chapman had 22 assists, four kills and three aces.
The Lady Falcons used Tuesday night’s match to raise money for the Side Out Foundation, which uses volleyball to increase breast cancer awareness.
When the match started, Lake Dallas quickly dropped the first set but slowly began to pick things up as the match progressed.
In the second set, Lake Dallas (9-24, 2-9 district) had an opportunity to change the complexion of the match. The Lady Falcons were on the verge of either tying the set at 24 or losing the set. Azle (7-3 in district) buried the final point of the set, causing Van Noy to fling her arms up in the air as she walked across the court to the adjacent bench.
In the third set, Van Noy and Azle head coach Jennifer Anderson shielded their mouths with their clipboards as they exhorted their respective teams.
Lake Dallas trailed 17-12 but fought back to score six straight points to take the lead. Azle countered to tie the set, but the Lady Falcons pushed back to go ahead 21-18, on track to extend the match to a fourth set.
“I think our ball control broke down,” Anderson said. “I felt like Lake Dallas was serving aggressive at us and we broke down in serve-receive.”
However, the lead dissipated as the Lady Hornets scored four straight points before finishing off Lake Dallas.
“When you’re up 21-18, you should be able to close a team out,” Van Noy said. “Losing that second [set] 23-25, it’s just ridiculous. I don’t know. It’s not youth anymore. They’ve been playing. They have almost 30 games under their belt. Being young is no freaking excuse now. They just need to step.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.