By TONY EIERDAM
For the second straight year the Mineral Wells Lady Rams volleyball team has qualified for the Class 3A playoffs.
Paced by a combined 18 kills from seniors Bethany Allen and Brittany Guill, the Lady Rams swept Fort Worth Diamond Hill, 25-18, 25-20, 25-16 Friday afternoon in a District 6-3A match at the MWHS gym.
The victory, coupled with a Lake Worth loss to Springtown, gives the Lady Rams and Lake Worth identical 4-5 district records as the teams are tied for third place.
The Lady Rams will conclude district play at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Castleberry, while Lake Worth takes on winless Diamond Hill. If both teams win Tuesday a third-place tiebreaker game to determine the third and fourth seeds in the league would be played (tentatively Thursday) at the end of next week.
The Lady Rams collected 32 kills and dominated the net. Allen led all hitters with 10 kills, with Guill adding eight. Middle hitter Bailey Simonton and outside hitter Sydney Vasquez each added five kills, and hitter Ashley Valdez registered three blocks and a three stoppers.
In fact, the Lady Rams were swinging hard from start to finish and many Diamond Hill points were scored on narrow misses by the aggressive Lady Rams hitters.
“I told the girls to swing hard no matter what,” Lady Rams head coach Taylor Eggleston said. “I wanted them to stay aggressive even if that meant sending a ball long.
“The girls kept it up, and even when Diamond Hill did return a hard hit they were back on their heels and out of their offense. Our hard hits were making them send free balls over the net.
“The girls took care of business and now have a chance to play for third place if we take care of business on Tuesday.”
The Lady Rams jumped out to an 11-5 lead in the opening game as Guill sent down three kills and added an ace from the service line, with Valdez adding a stopper, ace and a block.
Diamond Hill came back to cut the lead to 21-17 before a Lady Eagles’ net violation and return error, and a kill from Allen off a feed from setter Erin Burgeson, brought the opener to game point.
Two rallies later, Emiley Loya smashed a back-row kill to seal the game.
The Lady Rams began game two with an 8-2 advantage, but once again Diamond Hill crawled back into the game and cut the lead to 23-20.
A kill from the left side by Vasquez brought the contest to game point, and on the next rally, Simonton sent down a kill from the middle to give the hosts a 2-0 lead in games.
In game three, Diamond Hill took just its second lead of the match, 2-1, and trailed 12-11, but after that it was all Lady Rams.
MWHS went on a 6-1 run for an 18-12 lead courtesy of a three kills by Guill, a stopper from Allen and a DHHS service and return error.
Later in the contest, a kill by Scarlett Eaton followed by three straight DHHS return errors brought game three to match point.
On the ensuing rally, Allen fooled the Lady Eagles with a back-row kill to clinch the match.