Sluggish Sanger rallies to defeat Lady Bearcats
SANGER — It didn’t take long, one timeout to be exact, for Sanger coach Tammy Niemczyk to notice that her team wasn’t mentally ready to play Tuesday’s nondistrict match with Pilot Point.
“I was trying to get them to communicate after that first timeout, but it was almost like they were asleep,” Niemczyk said.
The sleepy start led to the Lady Indians dropping the first two sets to Pilot Point. But in a surprise twist, Sanger took the next three — including a dominating fifth set — to win 19-25, 17-25, 25-11, 25-22, 15-5.
Sanger improved to 17-7 with the win and avenged a three-set loss to the Lady Bearcats at last month’s Prosper tournament. Pilot Point (9-9) looked bewildered as it left the court.
“We just gave up,” Pilot Point coach Becky Phillips said following the match. “I wasn’t surprised at all, because we’ve done this before. We’re 9-9, so it’s been up and down all year. And until we learn, we’re going to continue to do this.”
The Lady Bearcats looked imposing early as they opened the first set on an 11-3 run and carried the momentum into the third set looking for a sweep. Ashtyn Richey finished with 11 kills for Pilot Point while Kirby Smith added eight.
But Sanger’s Kayla Askey countered with 15 kills and four blocks and Morgan Turkoly added 14 kills to make it a much longer night. Madi Wilson had 24 digs.
The difference in the match was Sanger’s ability to keep the ball in play, which eventually frustrated Pilot Point and forced a bevy of miscues. The Lady Bearcats had 12 errors in the third, including seven during a 14-3 Sanger run to open the set. Askey and Turkoly combined for five kills in that stretch and never let their team let up the rest of the way.
The newfound focus was crucial in the ensuing set as the teams traded blows early. Sanger led by five late, but Pilot Point went on a 6-2 run to narrow the gap to 23-22. Abby Switzer had three kills during the Lady Bearcats’ run, but Sanger triggered set point on a Pilot Point error and forced the fifth set on a kill from Turkoly.
Pilot Point never recovered from there. Sanger jumped out to an 8-3 lead in the fifth and won on a 7-2 run. Jaylen Pegues recorded four of the Lady Indians’ final five points.
“When we got the huge lead in the third, the momentum kept coming our way and never stopped,” Niemczyk said. “We started playing more of our game instead of playing with them [Pilot Point]. I’m just glad we woke up. I’m proud they kept their heads up. To be down by two and win in five doesn’t happen often.”