In Denton’s season opener against visiting Liberty Christian on Tuesday, the Lady Broncos wrote a similar script in each of the three sets.
Midway through each set, the Lady Warriors and Lady Broncos found themselves even, but it was Denton that turned the tide with some punctual consistency and rolled to a 25-16, 25-15, 25-16 sweep.
“When we were staying even, I looked at the team and said, ‘All right, let’s pick it up. Let’s go,’” Denton coach Danielle Kading said. “I think they kind of got recharged and started playing at their higher level. At the beginning, we were playing and we were playing well, but we turned it up when it got around 15 and it took off.”
Senior Hannah Altman, who led the Lady Broncos with 25 assists, made a smart, quick tip of a kill to give Denton a 4-1 lead in the first set, but the Lady Warriors surged back ahead 6-5. Denton responded with a 4-0 run, but Liberty answered with a 5-2 run to tie the set at 11.
That’s when the Lady Broncos made their first move of the night and rattled off an 11-3 run on the shoulders of three kills and an ace from junior Kenzie Dozier and three kills from senior Jade Akins to claim a 22-14 lead they turned into the first-set victory.
Akins was the team’s offensive leader, earning a double-double with 15 kills and 10 digs, while Dozier missed a double-double by one dig with 10 kills and nine digs. Senior Kody Jones had six kills, and junior Emily Curtis led the defense with 13 digs.
Kading said the chemistry on the junior- and senior-laden squad was evident.
“For me, that’s really important,” Kading said. “We’re starting to learn each other’s ways. We’re starting to learn who digs what ball. We’re starting to learn our strengths and weaknesses. You don’t normally see that until you’re almost starting district [play], so to be able to start making that path just means we’ll be able to execute it even better in district.”
The second set saw Denton put together a five-point run to take a 9-6 lead, but the Lady Warriors (0-1) were able to tie it at 9 and later at 14, but that’s when the Lady Broncos erupted for an 11-1 surge with four kills from Akins to secure their second set victory.
An ace by Liberty gave it a 9-8 advantage in the third set, but Denton responded with a 9-2 spurt to earn a 17-11 edge and finished off the match with a 4-1 run.
Kading said she likes how unselfish and focused her team is while working toward the ultimate goal of winning District 5-5A.
“We want to minimize our unforced errors and maximize our execution,” Kading said. “We need to maintain momentum. I think that’s one of the hardest goals we have to work for. It’s not me pushing them. It’s them pushing themselves to reach their goals, so I definitely think that’s going to help us in the long run to achieve our ultimate goal.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.